The Judge RANTS!
The Parochial Metropolitans
A few years ago on here, I said:
"In my experience, no-one is quite as provincial (or as shallow) as the English metropolitan reviewer, especially when the subject of the review comes from one of England's subject cultures. Unless it conforms to a clear set of stereotypes, which obviates the need for the critic to actually think for him- or herself, then it may safely be patronised, dismissed or (in the hands of a truly versatile reviewer) both."
I have now been provided with more collateral for this view.
Seachd (or, to give it it's English title, The Inaccesible Pinnacle) is a film shot on the Scottish isle of Skye, which tells of an old man relating a series of stories to his grandchildren. Yes, it's a fantasy movie, of the sort which seem to be all the rage at the moment, so you would think this would stand substantially in its favour.
It has, however, one pertinent fact standing 'against' it:
It's in Gaelic.
This seems to have been sufficient in the eyes and minds of the self-styled British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) to prevent them from recommending it for nomination to the Best Foreign Language film in the next Oscars.
BAFTA is the body (or is it corpse?) which has the power to decide what film (if any) to submit for that particular award. A sub-committee (and doesn't the blood turn to ice when you come across that word?) decided (on the basis of watching a DVD of it, for goodness sake!) that both Seachd and a Welsh film under consideration "didn't merit going forward" as they were not "outstanding".
(This last 'reason' is particularly amusing when you see the vast savannahs of shite which make up the nominations for BAFTA's own awards year after dross-laden year)
So, it's not "outstanding" enough for you, is it dahlings? How about these reviews for you?:
- "Dramatic, funny and spectacular" - The List
- "Tender, graceful" - The Herald
- "Breathtaking" - BBC
- "Glows with warmth and humanity" - The Observer
And just how do BAFTA square their decision with the fact that the film won strong reviews at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and that the film has been or will be screened at major festivals in Rome and Finland soon?
OK, I haven't seen the film. But I'd like to, and this would have been the chance for people around the world to be made aware of it. Just think: a chance for a widely-praised film to garner major international attention, and BAFTA fucked it all up with their customary purblind metrocentric arrogance. They might as well rename their little group PLAFTA (the Parochial Luvvies And Fatuous Twonks Association). Seachd's producer, Chris Young, has resigned from the 'Academy' in protest, and the US Academy itself has called BAFTA's decision into question.
The message from this seems quite clear to me: in the eyes of the incestuous art-cliques within the charmed circle of the M25, if it's not in English (and especially if it's not from England either) you have to be twice as good to get their approval. It is time that film-makers (and artists in general) in Scotland and Wales stopped trying to gain the plaudits of such arrogant metropolitan ignoramuses and aim to impress the real world instead.
Seachd's website is here.