£3 or a tray of home-baked cakes will get you into a Scottish answer to Cannes
If you could imagine the opposite of Cannes, this would be it. A new film festival, which Oscar-winning actor Tilda Swinton is founding in her hometown of Nairn, north-east Scotland, is to have no red carpets, no ranks of paparazzi and no designer evening dresses. Entry to the films will cost you £3 or a tray of home-baked cakes; and the audience will sit on beanbags.
Needless to say, the festival will have its own kind of glamour. Aside from the presence of Swinton, Joel Coen, one half of the Coen brothers, will programme two evenings of films for the event. His choices are being kept secret at the moment but, according to co-organiser Mark Cousins: "They are as daft as a brush. If you went through 5,000 films, you would never guess them."
The idea for a festival on the Moray Firth came when Swinton, "on a quixotic whim", according to Cousins, decided to rent an old ballroom in the town, known as the Ballerina, where Pink Floyd and the Who once played.
She asked friends, including Cousins, a former director of the Edinburgh international film festival, to help. "We started making a list of films we wanted to show, and we clicked immediately," he said. "We were attracted to the wondrous, childlike qualities of certain films; films with highly coloured, dreamlike elements."
Though the programme has not been announced, the films of Powell and Pressburger are bound to be featured - "you can't talk to Tilda for more than half an hour without her mentioning Powell and Pressburger," said Cousins. "She started throwing out names and they were things like Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple; and I suggested a lot of African and Iranian films. It won't be what you expect: we will show a Björk video before All About Eve, for example. It's very irrational."
What will draw the programme together, he said, is a certain fantastic, expressionist, anti-realist aesthetic. Roman Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers will be shown and Federico Fellini's 8½ will close the festival.
In contrast with more conventional film festivals, The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams (as it is to be called) will not centre around premieres.
Part of the impetus behind the festival is Swinton's and Cousins' idea that "money dictates the festival circuit too much, and fogs the pure, romantic obsession with film".
The festival will run from August 15-23, and screen three films a day in the 200-seat (or beanbag) ballroom. Some tickets will be available in advance, but most will be sold on the day.
If the festival is successful, the organisers hope to make it an annual event. Aside from a small grant, costs have been so far met by Swinton.