The first film in the showcase is Nighthawks, which was made in 1978 and directed by Ron Peck. The film focusses on a closeted gay school teacher, Jim (Ken Robertson), who socialises in London nightclubs in the hopes of finding the perfect partner. The film is the first definitive British film to have gay characters at the centre of the plot, rather than on the periphery, and is viewed by many as having cult status.
Nighthawks was heralded for its almost documentary-like quality which gave an accurate depiction of London’s gay scene in the 1970s. This realism is one of the reasons why O’Neill chose this film to represent the 1970s in this Albion showcase.
Heading into the 1980s O’Neill has selected Distant Voices, Still Lives which he says “is both a beautifully poetic and uncomfortably raw depiction of family life in post-war, working-class Liverpool.”
The first Scottish film ever to be directed by a woman represents the 1990s. Blue Black Permanent, released in 1992 and starring Celia Imrie, is described by O’Neill as “a haunting and lyrical film in which a woman mourns her mother’s death.”
Moving to the noughties, Fish Tank, which was released in 2009, has an Irish connection as O’Neill explains. “Fish Tank is a powerful coming of age drama about a teenage girl and gave Michael Fassbender one of his first notable roles.”
Bringing Albion to a close is The Selfish Giant, a coming of age story about two teenage boys in the north of England which was inspired by the Oscar Wilde short story of the same name. When the boys are suspended from school, they decide to earn some money by selling scrap metal which leads to all sorts of misadventures.
Albion — A Tribute, Triskel Arts Centre, March 22-24.