Archive for I Am Breathing

The Final Stretch

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on June 28, 2013 by dcairns


At this point in the Film Festival, nearer the end than the beginning, I always feel I’ve seen hardly anything, I always seem to have missed the films everyone’s talking about, though this year I did at least catch I AM BREATHING, led to it partly by the fact that it’s made by friends. It’s also brilliant. It may get a national release.

Yesterday I saw another friend’s film, DUMMY JIM by Matt Hulse, based on the published journal of James Duthie, a deaf Scotsman who in 1951 cycled to the Arctic Circle (he set off for Morocco but it was getting too hot as he neared Spain so he changed his mind). Duthie’s homespun, naive reactions to the people and places he encounters form just one layer of a playful, experimental film which creates a kind of magical simultaneity — as Duthie rides North, the actor playing the role records his VO in a Ramones T-shirt, a tombstone is carved for the real man, a commemorative certificate is hand-drawn (mega-closeups of cross-hatching form a 3D landscape, ink-lines bulging wetly from paper), pastries are prepared, and a school play is rehearsed in Duthie’s hometown (or near it). All this interwoven with Duthie’s 16mm home movies of his 3000-mile trip.

DUMMY JIM (OFFICIAL TRAILER) Directed by Matt Hulse from Matt Hulse on Vimeo.

Several years and at least one gear in the making, DUMMY JIM is a triumph of originality and probably the most charming Scottish film since Bill Forsyth’s heyday. As a deaf Scottish cyclist, my Dad really needs to see this film, but he’s broken his arm coming off his bike and can’t go. But  you’ll be there, yes?


Me at the Q&A after the first screening of NATAN, holding the Natan mask.

Tomorrow — NATAN screens again. Industry screening in morning, public in the evening (8:30). Please come to the public if you have the choice — tickets still available. We have reports of tears being shed by strong men and women, but nobody is depressed — righteously angry, maybe, but also inspired.

Plus, despite a scarcity of press coverage at this year’s festival, we have two good reviews: 1 and 2.


Lenick Philippot, Bernard Natan’s grand-daughter; yours truly; co-director Paul Duane; Diane Henderson of EIFF.

The Sunday Intertitle: A Summer Afternoon

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on June 23, 2013 by dcairns


From MALDONE, screening today at Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Well, I was nervous for the Dublin premiere of NATAN, I seem to be just as nervous now. This doesn’t actually get any easier, does it? NATAN has its UK premiere at 3:20 this afternoon. Do come!

Been going around grumbling that I’m going to miss a rare Jean Gremillon short because my film’s on at the same time, but then realized that’s actually not too bad a problem to have, is it? If it were the only problem I had I could be pretty happy…

Hope to write about one or some of the amazing Gremillon films I’ve seen for The Forgotten this week. Things are a bit mad — the blog is somewhat quiet, I know, making it look as if this Film Festival is less busy than last year’s, but the opposite is true. I don’t have time to write more.

What else is on today? — a programme of animation in honour of the late Scott Ward, my friend and cinematographer. Scott programmed animation for Edinburgh for years, and this tribute is a selection of his best choices. My chums Morag & Emma are being spun about in a media whirlwind with their sensational documentary I AM BREATHING, which plays again at 4:25.

CONSTRUCTORS, my favourite Kazakh comedy, screens again, MONSTERS UNIVERSITY, one of the Fest’s big guns, commercially, screens twice at the Festival Theatre, Sarah Polley’s THE MAKING OF US is getting raves from everyone who sees it, and Billie Jean King is in town to promote the documentary she stars in, THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES.

I hope to still be conscious when Richard Fleischer’s THE BOSTON STRANGLER plays at 9:45 tonight.


The Daily Notebook and the Annual Film Festival

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2013 by dcairns


Edinburgh International Film Festival has commenced!

But first, The Forgotten, and a silent clown / special effects genius awaits your discovery (with video) over at The Daily Notebook.

Screening today in Edinburgh, I AM BREATHING, the emotionally devastating — but ultimately life-affirming and often funny — documentary by my friends Morag McKinnon and Emma Davie (6pm, Filmhouse 1). It deals with the slow death of an exact contemporary of mine from Edinburgh College of Art, Neil Platt, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease. He wrote an amazing blog about his approach to the end, and left this filmic record of his existence partly as a way for his infant son to eventually know him.

Also showing (8.55, Cineworld) another friend’s film, DUMMY JIM by Matt Hulse, which I haven’t yet seen but I’m sure going to. I trust the sensibility. Hope to see some of you there!

What else? Oh yes — limericks of FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN, here and (co-authored) here. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the site!