Nostalgic return to Berwick for film director

THE director of 'Berwick's film', One More Kiss, made a nostalgic return to the town last week for the premiere of his latest film which opened the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival.

Vadim Jean arrived for his interview 20 minutes later than the 20 minutes late he had said he would be, but completely lacking in artistic tantrums or film industry airs and graces.

"It's been very nostalgic and very poignant," he said of his return to Berwick for the first time in about six years. I've revisited quiet a few of the places we shot in, one of which — a beautiful ruined cottage in Burnmouth — has actually been knocked down, so that was a bit sad. But it's great to be back and remember how friendly and beautiful and cinematic the place is."

The Maltings was pretty much full for the opening of his new film, Jiminy Glick in Lalawood, a crude, very funny —if not entirely satisfying — big-screen excursion for a television character created by US comedian Martin Short.

It couldn't be much more different from One More Kiss, which suits a director who says he always tries to vary his projects.

An American cross between Mrs Merton and Ali G, Glick is a corpulent, obnoxious chat show host who makes his living giving breathtakingly incompetent celebrity interviews.

In between showing him doing what he does best — he confuses Whoopi Goldberg with Oprah Winfrey, calls Forest Whitaker Forrest Gump, and reduces Steve Martin and Kurt Russell to helpless laughter — the film gives him a back story, telling how he found fame at the Toronto Film Festival by falling asleep in an atrocious film, giving it its only good review and gaining an interview with its reclusive star.

"It's mostly improvised but we didn't want to make a 'mockumentary'," says Vadim. "So Martin, his brother Michael and Paul Flaherty came up with an outline and we filmed around that. It's really about celebrity - this person, through his own crass incompetence, becomes the story."

The film went down a storm when it premiered in Toronto itself, where it got a standing ovation, but wasn't quite as well-received at The Maltings.

A bizarre digression into David Lynch-style murder mystery, with Short himself heavily made up as Lynch, makes an uneasy bedfellow with the gross humour and celebrity ambushing of the rest of the film.

However, there was plenty of laughter at Short's ever sillier and more obscene antics, and it's certainly a lot better than Ali G Indahouse. Whether it will find an audience in a country not familiar with the character is another matter.

Still to come at the festival are two further UK premieres, starting tonight (Thursday) at 9pm with the Afghan-set Earth and Ashes, a drama of honour and war-torn family ties, in which an elderly man must cross the Afghan desert with his five-year-old grandson.

Also today, at 6.30pm in the Guildhall, is the second part of JJ Films, highlights from the family archive of the Rev John Jackson of Coldstream. This showing will focus on rare footage of Eyemouth from 1948-1955.

Tomorrow night's film is Suburbs, a black comedy-drama from Slovenia in which four chauvinistic, middle-aged friends take out their frustrations on their young neighbours. Suburbs starts at 9pm and is preceded at 6.30pm by the last in the Retrospect season, Lars von Trier's Europa.

On Saturday, the Iranian comedy Bitter Dream has its English premiere at 4.30pm before the festival climaxes with 'Berwick's favourite film', the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life, at 7pm.

Most of the artist trail part of the festival is open till 6pm each day until Saturday, and until 4pm on Sunday, at various venues around the town. Pick up a programme from The Maltings for details.