25 May 2024
Bill Douglas films celebrated at Glasgow Film Festival 2024

Bill Douglas To Be Celebrated At Glasgow Film Festival

Bill Douglas
Bill Douglas may not be a name many people know about, his life is about to be celebrated on the big screen. The life and career of one of Scotland’s greatest filmmaking talents, will be celebrated with two major premieres at Glasgow Film Festival and Glasgow Short Film Festival this March.

Born into poverty in a Midlothian mining community of Newcraighall in 1934, Bill Douglas became one of Scotland’s most celebrated film directors. From his National service in the 1950’s, meeting the man who would change his life, Peter Jewell. The pair became a hub of creativity and lived together for over 30 years until Bill passed away from cancer in Peter’s North Devon hometown in 1991.

Douglas made four films: an autobiographical trilogy about his difficult childhood—My Childhood, My Ain Folk and My Way Home—and Comrades, a transcontinental, visually epic about the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

Glasgow Film Festival will host the UK premiere of the story of this extraordinary friendship – Bill Douglas: My Best Friend. Jack Archer’s moving documentary, Peter reminisces about the life he shared with Bill in their tiny Soho flat filled with cinema memorabilia.

Glasgow Short Film Festival will bring to a cinema screen, for the first time ever, six of these short films, charting Bill’s development as a filmmaker and storyteller exploring form and genre. Shot over a three year period in the mid-to-late sixties on the streets and rooftops of Soho, the films feature Bill and Peter’s friends and neighbours.
Bill Douglas Water Cress film
The films include the Hitchcockian psychological-drama Woman in the Park, a metaphysical spy spoof The Water Cress File and Still Life. Five of the films are silent and will be accompanied by a new live score composed and performed by Scottish musician Gerard Black (Babe, Archipel, François & the Atlas Mountains). The final film, Small World, is a rare ‘talkie’ which shows Bill’s flair for dialogue.

Glasgow Short Film Festival has a long-established relationship with Bill Douglas’s legacy, with its annual award for International Short Film at the festival named in his honour.

Jack Archer, Director Bill Douglas: My Best Friend, said: “Bill Douglas has inspired many contemporary voices in world cinema but remains undiscovered by mainstream audiences. The discovery of a treasure trove of his unseen films was incredibly exciting. Watching them was like flicking through Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebook . They demonstrated not only his developing style and directors’ eye but also the impact his friend Peter Jewell had on his life and career. Meeting Peter it became clear that his telling of the story of their life together should be the centre of the film. Bill remains a huge part of his life even thirty years after his death. He still finds it hard to define their friendship, emphasising that it wasn’t a sexual one; “we never said I love you or anything like that” and yet it had a physical dimension, “we held hands, hugged and relied on one another. Their friendship was Platonic in the true meaning of the term, a spiritual rather than physical relationship formed around an appreciation of culture and an obsession for cinema. As Peter himself says ‘Art is the only immortality

Allison Gardner, CEO of Glasgow Film, said: “Glasgow Film Festival are delighted to host the UK premiere of Jack Archer’s fascinating new exploration of one of Scotland’s most revered 20th century filmmakers. Bill Douglas: My Best Friend is both a moving exploration of the friendship that shaped Bill’s life and a reminder of how his visionary and ambitious storytelling influenced a generation of filmmakers that followed in his footsteps, from Lynne Ramsay to Lenny Abrahamson. As the conversation around how working class people can build and sustain a career in the UK film industry becomes more pressing, Bill’s story and legacy is more timely than ever.

Glasgow Film Festival will celebrate its 20th edition from 28th February to 10th March this year, with the full festival programme revealed on 24th January. Tickets to all events will go on sale Monday 29th January.

Glasgow Short Film Festival runs from 20th – 24th March. Tickets for Bill Douglas: Unseen Super 8 go on sale today at glasgowshort.org and the full programme is announced on 20th February.

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