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The Passenger or the search for identity (FW31)

Reverberant notes - Margaret Tait
‘Hold it – Hold it simple – Hold it direct.’ Margaret Tait’s reverberant notes. By Mitchell Miller
Speaking of his late friend Margaret Tait, Peter Todd said this of her filmmaking style. ‘…the dialogue she has with people when she is filming them – they are aware of her, it is not like taking an image or something, it is quite a unique engagement. It is not like ‘I am running away afterwards… I am here to do a documentary and then I am going away.’ I am here like the fabric. That may or may not cause problems with people.
‘Here like the fabric’ is an apt way to sum up Tait’s corpus of film poetry, a director who elevated the commonplace to a cinematic art of power and dignity. Place and time served as theme and medium. She filmed places she belonged to (Kirkwall in Orkney), had adopted (Edinburgh’s Rose Street) or felt for. She zoomed in on rubber boots blowing gently in the wind, or watched with autistic fervour the bubbles in a stream. She let these things exist in themselves within the frame, ever-present and forever. She applied the skills taught her by the neo-realists to create a demotic style of filmmaking routed in her surroundings that nevertheless has found a wide appeal.