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					Bath Film Festival 2009                  Monday 16 November

     UK | 2008 | 82m | 15

Director: Marek Losey

Screenplay: Tim Whitnall
Producers: John Schwab, Christopher Granier-Deferre
Cinematography: George Richmond
Editor: Colin Sumsion
Original music: Debbie Wiseman
Leading Players: Alex MacQueen, Phil Campbell
You are reading the BFF filmnote for a new British film called The Hide. Congratulations! This means
you’ve made the discerning choice to come out this evening (unless curiosity has prompted you to
download the note from our website - almost equally commendable) to see a film which we feel is
just the kind of interesting work the festival should be featuring.
Why have we chosen to include The Hide in this year’s programme? To judge purely by a short syn-
opsis it’s an uncinematic prospect - two men holed up in a bird hide, one of them a quintessential
nerd hoping to complete his British bird list with a sighting of the one remaining absence the Sociable
Plover (greyish-white with tan spots, easily confused with other species), the other an unannounced
visitor and a rather rough, tatooed type. The weather’s grim, the landscape’s a bit dull and there’s an
awful lot of talking. Where’s the film?
The Hide’s origins in writer Tim Whitnall’s own stage play The Sociable Plover is plain enough to see.
One wonders, however, if the highly nuanced performance which Alex MacQueen, as twitcher extra-
ordinaire Roy Tunt, delivers here (“could be in line for some silverware” - Peter Bradshaw in The
Guardian) could have been conveyed as effectively by a player on a stage to a theatre audience. It’s a
quite brilliant cinema tour-de-force, progressively undermining the assumptions we all-to-readily
make about the character, and revealing the script as a model of finely-tuned elegance. Every word,
gesture and purse of the lips counts, generating the dramatic momentum which leads to a genre-
transgressing finale. And this from a writer whose cv includes a lot of work in children’s tv
(Teletubbies!). The film is an increasingly convoluted riff on genre conventions, in which the conno-
tations of almost every meaning of the word ‘hide’ are played with.
The other thing that impresses is the cinematography, and particularly the lighting. George Richmond
makes the most of a glowering, slanting, side light that lends the film the look of a grapic novel adap-


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The Hide 16.11
tation. I watched the film immediately after seeing Fears of the Dark, and was struck by the similari-
ty in mood of the two films. In some scenes the interior of the hide begins to resemble outakes from
the German Expessionist school, and it would be interesting to know to what extent the cine-
matograher made use of the natural Sussex light to achieve this effect.
Another interesting aspect, not so much of the film itself, is the intriguing marketing strategy taken
by production company Poisson Rouge. Alex MacQueen, as Roy Tunt, has made a series of video
diaries for You Tube ( which give the impression of a
harmless, but hilarious, eccentric - somewhat unlike the rather intense Tunt of the film, but subtly
hinting at the dark side (for instance, in the violent ‘death’ by pressure washer of a soiled teddy bear
in ‘Video Diary Day 4’). Producer John Schwab says he cannot remember whose idea this was, but
that director Marek Losey was keen to create a viral marketing campaign that made the most of the
monstrous Roy Tunt. On the strength of his realisation of Roy there’s every chance that Alex
MacQueen, hitherto known for his turns as Sir Jonathan Tutt in The Thick of It and as the anaesthetist
in Holby City (at whose feet we must lay blame for the actor’s non-appearance at our screening
tonight!), will become the focus of a cult following. I for one see no reason why Roy Tunt shouldn’t
have his very own tv show.
                                                                       BFF filmnote by Chris Baker
Wednesday at Bath Film Festival 2009
9.00pm | Little Theatre | £8 / £6
The Merry Gentleman
Michael Keaton | USA | 2008 | 99m | 15
     Actor Michael Keaton debuts as director in a film about the unlikely friendshipbetween a morose assas-
sin and a kind-hearted woman on the run from an abusive husband. Kate (Kelly Macdonald) is struggling to
rebuild her life in Chicago. One night after leaving work, she notices a man standing on a ledge about to
jump,this is Frank (Keaton) a contract killer with suicidal tendencies. MacDonald (Trainspotting, No Country
For Old Men) shines in the leading role. Keaton delivers just the right level of moody poignancy for a film
about two loners trying to makesense of their imperfect lives.
7:00pm | Chapel Arts | £6 / £4
Gary Hustwit | USA | 2009 | 75m | 12A tbc
     It’s easy to forget that every one of the thousands of manufactured items which we encounter daily
depends upon human processes of thought and decision for its existence. In this successor to Helvetica
(BFF 2007), his film about a typeface, Gary Hustwit takes a similar but broader approach in examining the
world of product design, and asks some fascinating questions about how objects such as the iPhone
become such powerful talismans. Having seen this absorbing documentary, you won’t be able to view your
alarm clock in quite the same way ever again.

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