Volume 1 - Issue 8 - Editorial


In Issue 7 of Vertigo, we ran a joke about the possible populist and authoritarian tendencies of a future Labour government. The occasion for this joke was Kim Howells’ prayer for the creation of an English Hollywood. His battle cry of life to everything to the right of us and death to everything on the left – elitism, chatterers etc. etc. – was hardly surprising; this after all was only a very small step for a ‘communist who’s seen the light’ to take. Popular into populist will go –and what’s more that’s not too hard a sum to calculate. You can imagine the sheer relief for Kim Howells and others like him when they felt able to lift off their heavy political overcoats and go jogging with all the other walkmans. Families, schools, artists and sportsmen and women are all now being ordered to volunteer to join the new Labour vision – be of the many and ignore the few.

It’s getting to be like living in the MASH compound being loudly hailed not by GI DJs, but by row upon row of gymnasts posing as vicars.

As far as the film and television industries are concerned, this call to arms can be seen to be embodied in the Stewart Till report – the “nth” attempt to create a British film industry. As reports go it’s not all bad – it’s what’s missing in the report that concerns us.

In this issue we attempt to decipher the report through Ben Gibson’s open letter to Chris Smith, as well as publishing our interview with Tom Clarke, the Minister responsible for cinema and tourism. Going some way towards suggesting some of the ideas that are plainly missing in the Till report, Gill Henderson argues for the existence of a third chain of cinemas by using the regional network of film theatres. The Lux Cinema, one of the premier independent cinemas in London, adds more ideas by reporting on its first year of existence.

Vertigo 8 is being published at a time when independent cinema is once again facing the worst of times. The British Film Institute Production Board funds have been frozen due to a near £1 million cut by the government, Arts Council films have been closed down, and the Alpha Fund for independent film franchises is not even sure of being set up - and if it is, it may be as a replacement for the Production Board; all of this is reported and analysed in William Raban’s piece on the right to difference.

Despite New Labour being inevitably dragged towards old Labour visions, such as the desire to see glass domes full of Montys, Weddings and Funerals, independent visions can also be seen to rise. We reveal three of these visions – John Maybury’s film on Francis BaconLove is the Devil, Painted Angels by Jon Sanders, and Dance With the Wind by Rajan Khosa. All these films have a huge “despite” written all over them and, precisely because of this, they expand cinema’s raison d’être – something about which the Stewart Till report is (in a sense quite rightly, given its task) utterly silent.

Vertigo also stands for criticism that breaks through the mind numbing status quo where culture is currency and currency is culture. To that end, Chris Petit introduces Ian Penman and his brilliant essay on Tarantino. In the front section of the magazine, Vertigo reviews Trevor Griffiths’ film Food for Ravens, a film on Aneurin Bevan. The film’s production history reveals the timorous nature of the BBC. Vertigo is showing this film at the Lux Cinema on the 27th June with Trevor Griffiths in attendance. This beautiful film should not belong to the “despite” category, but then the BBC these days is always ready and willing to surprise.

Independent visions, of course, survive in this very still climate as James Swinson’s article on Video Art and John Mount’s portrait of the Portugese producer Paulo Branco eloquently testifiy.

If our promised land is seen to be one that is ordered by G8 and where “limits” is the favourite word to be applied to wages, dreams, self and all horizons, then for sure our tomorrows won’t sing as much as whisper, mumble and sleep themselves into boredom. What extraordinary possibilities then exist for such independent visions.