January 2, 2017


Bill Forsyth (1946-) b. Glasgow, Scotland.

Bill Forsyth

Scottish-born director whose career seems to have been washed away in the murky waters of Hollywood. The more recent stages of his career are far from its bright beginnings, when Forsyth brought his own laconic Glasgow burnout across in two richly amusing features shot on minimal budgets. A first-year dropout from the National Film School, Forsyth was bogged down in assistant’s jobs on documentaries when he decided he might as well strike out and make features for himself. The first one came about as a result of meeting kids at the Glasgow Youth Theatre. It’s basically both a comedy and a comment on the unemployment situation: a fairy-tale for the workless. The film, That Sinking Feeling (1980), turned out to be a riotous and always wittily written comedy about a group of teenage Glasgow unemployed who decide there ‘must be something more to life than committing suicide’ and hatch a harebrained scheme to steal several hundred stainless steel sinks. Great ensemble playing from the youthful cast confirms the promise of the direction. The film received cheers at festivals but little in the way of distribution. Forsyth solved that problem with Gregory’s Girl (1981). The freshest and funniest school story from Britain for years, it tells of a girl who makes the school football team. Next he was able to cast Hollywood’s Burt Lancaster in Local Hero (1983), an Ealing-style fantasy set on the Scottish coast, with Forsythian streaks of zaniness. It won him a BAFTA Award for Best Direction.

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