The search is on for the descendants of Scotland’s first film stars, one hundred years after their cinema debut.
Romantic drama, Mairi: The Romance of a Highland Maiden, was made in 1912 by Inverness man Andrew Paterson and is believed to be Scotland’s first fiction film. Mairi is currently touring Scotland as part of the live cinema event, The Lost Art of the Film Explainer, and comes to Inverness Film Festival on Sunday 11 November.
Event organisers are keen to hear from anyone related to the cast who made Scottish movie history. The film’s stars are believed to be drawn from the Inverness amateur dramatic scene of the 1910s. Telling the love story of a girl and a Revenue (or Excise) Officer caught up in a daring smuggling plot and filmed on the shores of North Kessock, Mairi will be brought to life through the revival of the silent film tradition of Film Explaining – a rare blend of storytelling, live music and archive films.
Commissioned for the 2012 Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema in Bo’ness, The Lost Art of the Film Explainer’was a hit with Festival audiences in March. Part narrator and part actor, the Film Explainer stood next to silent movie screens in Japan, across Asia and parts of Europe enriching the movies with an entertaining combination of background information, unique interpretation and theatrical storytelling.
As well as Mairi, the programme includes St Kilda – Britain’s Loneliest Isle an elegiac journey to the remotest part of the British Isles on the eve of the island’s evacuation in August 1930.
Alison Strauss, Arts Development Officer (Film & Media) at Falkirk Community Trust and Director of the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema said: “We’re delighted ‘The Lost Art of the Film Explainer’ is coming to Inverness Film Festival. It was one of the triumphs of the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema this year when the cinema seemed to come alive with the spirit of its screen past.
“Andy, Wendy and Frank had the audience utterly captivated by the films, allowing us to experience these archive gems with an immediacy they haven’t induced since they were screened a hundred years ago. We would love to hear from any descendants of the Mairi cast and perhaps find out more about this historic film as it screens again.”
The film’s credits are as follows:
Written, Photographed & Directed by Andrew Paterson
(Re-edited by James S. Nairn in 1953)
‘Mairi’ – Evelyn Duguid
‘Lovat MacDonald’ – Dan Munro
‘Alpine’ – Jack Maguire
‘Torquil’ – Dan Dallas
‘Grigor’ – Alex Paterson
‘Revenue Officer Bates’ – Tom Snowie
‘Revenue Officer Jones’ – Hector McIver
‘Revenue Officer Bentley’ – Luis Lyon
Anyone wishing to be in touch about the film should email the producer of the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema, Shona Thomson at ShonaM.Thomson@falkirkcommunitytrust.org.
The Lost Art of the Film Explainer is on at Eden Court as part of the Inverness Film Festival on Sunday 11 November at 5pm, visit the website for full details.
Image by Graeme MacDonald, courtesy of Falkirk Community Trust.