Peter Mullan's Neds, a gritty depiction of life growing up among the gangs of Glasgow's notoriously tough housing estates, has been hailed as a brutal masterpiece of cinematic realism. In the city where it is set, it seems the trouble – and the Neds – have not been confined to the screen alone.
Managers at Glasgow's flagship cinema have been forced to employ security guards to quell disturbances during screenings of the low-budget cult movie which was last night named London Evening Standard Best Film. Cinema-goers at Cineworld in the city centre complained that showings had to be halted because rival gangs of swearing youths, not dissimilar to those portrayed in the film, had been throwing popcorn and spraying strong lager and wine at each other.
One staff member described chaotic scenes at screenings. "It's been a nightmare – it seems that all the Neds in Scotland want to see the film. We've got rival gangs pitching up looking for trouble with each other. One of the first screenings of Neds had to be halted halfway through."
A Cineworld spokeswoman confirmed that security had been brought in but insisted the problems had now been quelled. "We did have a couple of disturbances at a couple of the screenings but it was very quickly dealt with. Everyone who experienced disruption received complimentary tickets and a refund," she said.
The term Neds, now considered an acronym for non-educated delinquent, is a derogatory phrase applied to Scotland's white working-class youth and is comparable to the English pejorative chav.
Mullan, the director of Neds, grew up in Glasgow and was a member of a gang which he later described as "the usual pointless, tribal, violent expurgation of adolescent anger".
The film is closely modelled on his own experiences of casual adolescent violence in the 1970s, and Mullan also acts, playing a drunken, abusive father at the head of a large Catholic family – a character inspired by his own father.
Last night in London Neds beat Another Year, Mike Leigh's portrait of ageing, as seen through the prism of the seasons, and Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist to be named Best Film. It has already won the top prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
Conor McCarron, who plays the film's leading character, was beaten to the Most Promising Newcomer prize by Ben Wheatley, the co-writer and director of Down Terrace.
The largely disenfranchised demographic received Neds achieved a degree of respectability when the word became one of 1,5000 new additions to Collins English Dictionary in 2005, where it is described thus: "a young working-class male who dresses in casual sports clothes".
The Scottish BBC comedy show Chewin' The Fat featured a sketch where the news was translated for neds, using typical slang terms. Though the ned may exist throughout Scotland, the terminology remains proprietary to Glasgow. Not to be outdone, Edinburgh has its "schemies", while in Dundee the Roma word Gadgie is more common.
In 2003, the Scottish Socialist Party MSP Rosie Kane tabled a question to the Scottish Parliament condemning use of the word "ned", which she said was degrading and insulting to young people.
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