Volume 2 | Issue 4 | Spring 2003


Volume 2 - Issue 4 - Editorial

“Never again will a single story be told as though it were the only one.” – John Berger. With these words, Vertigo’s last editorial, on diversity, was anchored. The implications of his challenging observation are again explored throughout this issue, as we concern ourselves with what is told, the way in which it is communicated, and with its place in a world seemingly spilling over with stories. However, despite the passing of the once dominant ‘grand narratives’, when it comes to the largest frameworks of our global economic, social and political order, an all too singular tale still gets most of the airtime. Monocultures are always imperial, whether wheat strains, trading systems or divinities, but they are also vulnerable, because the (often blatantly manufactured) absolutes they claim to offer are so obviously partial and exclusive.
read more



We Do the Real Thing

By Christopher Roth

The brain of Ulrike Meinhof is in the German news again. It has turned up in Magdeburg, having been transferred there a few years ago so that research could be carried out on it. It looks like they wanted to find out something about evil.

A Critical Voice

By Henry K Miller

Within a few years of its publication in 1958, the question posed by Andre Bazin’s collected works – Qu'est-ce que le cinéma? – would prove unanswerable. The growing visibility of new cinemas, Indian and Japanese especially, at the European film festivals of the 1950s was a hint that his attempt to define cinema’s ‘essence’...

A Cut Above

By Catherine Elwes

Undercut, the pivotal ’80s journal of experimental film, is revisited in a new collection. Structural materialist film, for all its horror of conventional film practices, itself became institutionalised after its rise to avant-garde prominence in the mid 1960s.

Altered States

By Lucy Reynolds

Lana Turner moves through a labyrinth of rooms, opening and closing doors, halting on the stairs, tossing and turning on her bed. Something or someone is clearly distressing her, but the object of her consternation is always out of view.

Argentine Voices

By Dylan Howitt

A blip and it’s gone: Argentina’s revolution no longer warrants precious airtime. Those who did catch the news in December 2001 however, witnessed a country ablaze in protest – with millions on the streets, burning banks, fleeing politicians and police repression.

The Berlin Talent Campus: Playing in the Pregnant Oyster

By Thessa Mooij

Before the Berlin International Film Festival moved to the glitzy, post-Fall Potsdamer-platz, its hub used to be the Pregnant Oyster, as the Haus der Kulturen der Welt is affectionately called by the locals.

Controlled Collisions

By Tony Grisoni

1932. Cashen Gap, Isle of Man. An ugly little house overlooking the Irish Sea. The Irving family – father, mother, Voirrez – the remaining daughter, 13 years old. A presence moves into the walls of the house. Learns to speak by listening and imitating.

Cultural Exception, OK?

By Michael Chanan

Don’t expect too much from the Film Council if you live in the heartland of England. According to Alan Parker in a speech made last Guy Fawkes day, presenting the Film Council’s guidelines for the future of the British film industry, “we have to stop defining success by how well British films perform in Milton Keynes."

Everything for Sale

By Julian Petley

In October 2002, the government announced a consultation document entitled Liberalising Trade in Services: a New Consultation on the World Trade Organisation GATS Negotiations. Never heard of GATS? You're not alone.

Fries, Dam Lies and Videotape

By Lizzie Gillett

If a story affects me enough to dedicate three years to it, I assume viewers will also be moved. With Drowned Out, I was surrounded by people who were about to lose their whole way of life – their homes, their ancestral land, their culture and their community.


By Jo Lanyon

Gate was a moving image pilgrimage that too place in a bleak part of Dartmoor National Park on a cold October night last year. The location provided the curatorial rationale for a programme that aimed to absorb "the associations and raw topography of the site."

Getting it on

By Ben Slater

"Our cinemas, like so much in this country, are dirty, decaying, uncomfortable places", wrote then-governor of the British Film Institute, John Boorman, in 1984, taking time out to bemoan the UK film industry.

Handing on Histories

By Sheila Rowbotham

The filmmakers who have contributed to Looking at Class have been revealing, defining and illuminating ideas and aspects of life that have been neglected and excluded from our dominant culture since the early 1960s.

Hanspeter and me

By Peter Matthews

Hanspeter Ammann is a London and Zurich-based video artist whose work hasn’t always received the attention it deserves. Let me admit my partisanship straight off. I have known Hanspeter for almost seven years – and more than casually, it must be said.

Has Anyone Seen this Girl?

By Chris Darke

I watched Lynne Ramsay’s film Morvern Callar twice over the course of a month. The first viewing was at the Curzon Soho for the film’s West End opening, which got off to a less than auspicious start. The cinema was roughly a quarter-full and the screening was half an hour late in starting.

Her Stories

By Eileen Elsey

In May 2001 I interviewed Lynne Ramsay whilst researching a book on short film for the BFI. She was in the process of editing Morvern Callar at the time. I had been interviewing film-makers about their creative process, and became fascinated by the different ways people talked about it.

In this World

By Tony Grisoni

We are trying to make a film about an illegal business, legally. We are tracing one of the main overland routes for trafficking people. It’s part of the old Silk Road, whereby opium, petrol, tobacco or people are passed along a chain from one contact to another.

Internal Cinema (Cinema of the Mind): a Project for Prisoners

By Charlotte Cullinan | Jeanine Richards

Preliminary communication with the prisoners took more than three months – it must have been shocking for them to receive a sudden invitation to explore such a personal arena – but we soon established a relationship based on mutual knowledge and trust.

Intimate Witnesses

By Catherine Elwes

The artists Kate Adams and Katharine Meynell have both used video to tell stories about themselves but, in two major new commissions, these elaborations of identity are filtered through the tireless and unflinching scrutiny of illness and disability of those closest to them.

Narrative as Myth & Memory

By Aleksandar Dundjerovich

Stories, drawn from both personal and collective memory, are an essential element of Robert Lepage’s theatre and film work. In order to write, he believes one has to be a mythomaniac, to ‘amplify the stories you hear, give a larger dimension to the stories you invent.’

Neighbourhood Watching

By Graham Hodge

Neighbourhood Watching is a new initiative to bring film and local communities closer together.  It began in September this year with a series of short films shown on a giant screen in the playground of the St Peters housing estate in Bethnal Green, east London.

Reality Check

By Elizabeth Wood

DocHouse is an initiative designed to support and promote documentary in the UK. We urgently need a centre that makes past work accessible, encourages new talent and promotes the form for the future.

Red Army Fictions

By Kieron Corless

On October 18th 1977 three leading members of the armed revolutionary group the Red Army Faction – Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe – were found dead in their cells in Stammheim prison in Germany.

Rewriting the Script on Film Development

By Robin Macpherson

Agencies which are involved in script development, like the Film Council and Scottish Screen, can decide whether to advocate a particular kind of story-telling/filmmaking voice, and whether to actively encourage scripts/stories of a certain kind, by certain sectors within the spectrum from commercial to artist-led projects.

Script and Script Again

By Malcolm Mowbray

“I don’t know. Something you have to feel by instinct and experience and then one time out of three, at least, you’re wrong. I don’ think anybody can give you a formula.”

Sink or Swim – The Muddy Waters of Independent Distribution

By Caroline Freeman | Kate Gerova

With Alan Parker’s recent keynote speech (on the ‘little England’ syndrome of the British film industry) calling for tax-break schemes to fund distribution, and the emergence of a number of high profile new companies, it might seem like there has never been a better opportunity to enter the fray.


By Gareth Evans

If anyone was in any doubt that the pornographic impulse is now central to contemporary culture, then the scopophilic vilification of the contestants in the latest instalment of Big Brother should put such uncertainties to rest.

Sliding into Crisis

By Guillermo de Carli

Many Argentineans believe our financial situation will end up being for export. A plan so well thought-out, with so many accomplices inside and outside the country, and unceasingly sustained for more than 25 years, cannot end as just a southern curiosity, or even the IMF’s biggest mistake.

The Sound of Story

By Stephen Daltry

I am very much of the persuasion that ‘less is more’ as far as film music is concerned. I like first the simplicity of the image, the empty frame that is filled with light, with movement or stillness, the quiet hum of a fridge, voices whispering, the distant sound of a school playground...

Waking Up from Cinema

By Richard Wright

When director Richard Linklater was pitching the idea for his first animated film Waking Life (2002), he wanted to show some studio executives the different logic that operated in the dream state. Every dream explorer knows that the way to test if you are dreaming is to switch the lights off.

Tilda Swinton: In the Spirit of Derek Jarman

By Tilda Swinton

Jubilee is out on DVD. I found a copy in Inverness and watched it last night. It’s as cheeky a bit of inspired old ham punk spunk nonsense as ever grew out of your brain and that’s saying something: what a buzz it gives me to look at it now.

Mapping Perception: In Hindsight a Reflection

By Andrew Kötting

Offering this as a semblance of back story, garnered from the autobiography. The work as therapy. We took my daughter’s life Eden, from conception, 15 years ago, (a veritable cupid’s gymnasium) and attempted a reconficuration of all those moments captured.

Volume 2 Issue 4Spring 2003

Managing Editor:
Holly Aylett
Editor: Gareth Evans
Events Producer: Di Robson
Thanks to: Tatiana Vargas, James Farrell

Editorial Board: Holly Aylett, Yossi Bal, Michael Chanan, Robert Chilcott, Kieron Corless, Margaret Dickinson, Gareth Evans, Catherine Fowler, Sylvia Harvey, James Leahy, Ruth Lingford, Julian Petley, Felicity Sparrow, Sarah Turner, Nick Walker

Editorial Advisors: Gill Branston, South Wales; Don Coutts, Glasgow; Judith Higginbotham, South West England; Sara McCarthhy, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne; Martin McLoone, Coleraine; Robin Macpherson, Edinburgh; Kevin Rockett, Dublin; Richard Taylor, Belfast

Original Print Design: Mark Norton, 4i Group (T. 020 7439 4399)

Printed by: Yale Press

With Special Thanks to: John Akomfrah, Manuela Cara, Corinne Cartier, Peter Chappell, Helen Dugdale & Sheffield International Documentary Festival, Faction Films, Simon Field & Rotterdam International Film Festival, 4i Group, Peter Kennard, Staff at the Lux, James Mackay, Tina McFarling, Thessa Mooij & The Goeth Institute (London), Sylvia Stevens, Gary Thomas (Arts Council of England)

Original Print Edition published with financial assistance from: LFDVA, The Arts Council of England, Film Council