Jonathan Melville: Bill’s still our local hero

Bill Forsyth. Pic: Comp

Bill Forsyth. Pic: Comp

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IT’S not every day you get to watch one of your favourite films in the company of its director, but that’s what happened to me at the weekend in the small fishing port of Mallaig.

I’d made the six-hour trip from Edinburgh to attend a 30th anniversary screening of 1983’s Local Hero, the finest Scottish film ever made, and one I can watch again and again and always find something new to enjoy.

The director, Bill Forsyth, was also at the event inside Scotland’s mobile cinema, the Screen Machine. It had been set up just a few miles from Morar Beach, where Forsyth had brought his cast and crew in 1982 to make his ecological comedy.

As the rain pelted down on the roof, the 80-strong audience (that’s all the cinema seats) laughed at jokes they’d no doubt heard a dozen times before, as if for the first time.

After the film I carried out a Q&A with Forsyth and the film’s producer, Iain Smith, nervous in case I didn’t ask the right questions in front of the film’s fans and creators.

I needn’t have worried. Forsyth was a brilliant interviewee, recalling small details about locations, dealings with Hollywood stars and the tricks employed to make the film.

As it has been almost 15 years since Forsyth’s last feature, I asked if he would be bringing anything new to our screens in the near future: “I’ve never stopped working,” he told me. “I’m not compelled to make films.

“Iain Smith and I are doing some things we hope will turn into a film in the next year or two.”

I’ll keep my fingers crossed it happens, but in the meantime I might go and find a red phone box to call. Anyone got any ten pences?