Independent films have always had a hard time cutting through to mainstream audiences but recent innovations in Internet distribution, digital production systems and better access to a swathe of upcoming talent mean we might be entering a new era of breakthrough microbudget activity.
Edinburgh director Graham Drysdale has always pushed at the limits of movie production. ‘Lovely’, his 10 minute short filmed on 16 millimetre stock won lots of international prizes and was bought by Film Four. After a run at film festivals in Aspen, Chicago and New York it sold to the Independent Film Channel in America and to this day he still get emails about it every few months. Graham now runs a film course at Queen Margaret University.
WIGILIA is his first full length feature, an alternative Christmas movie that cultivates a heart-warming romantic drama through the rituals of Polish and Scottish traditions. The film stars Iwona Glowinska, from the band Featherwest, and co-stars Duglas T. Stewart, singer and songwriter of BMX Bandits – Glasgow musical icons and Kurt Cobain’s other favourite band.
Duglas sports a languorous presence as Robbie, a down at heel musician who sneaks into his brother’s empty house for a bit of respite over the holidays. There he discovers Agata, the Polish housekeeper who also had the same idea. She introduces him to Wigilia – a Polish Christmas ritual whereby 12 dishes are laid out to eat, representing the coming months of the year. On a screen suffused with warm, Hopper-esque tones the two lost souls spend an inspirational and life changing Xmas eve together.
Graham looks at film with a painterly eye, creating a dreamy atmosphere which zones in on precise details like candle-lit reflections, photos on shelves and soft hues on prickly skin. Duglas as Robbie meanders sweetly through events, taking each revelation with an easy nod, while Iwona produces a barnstorming central performance as Agata the tortured housekeeper – in turns spirited, morose, lacerating, thoughtful and sad.
A touching and uplifting alternative to the typical yuletide saccharine servings, Wigilia finds something to say to the hardest of hearts at this reflective time of year. With one original song by Duglas performed with Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and a cracking soulful score by Jim Harbourne, it’s the ideal last minute Xmas treat for the music fan, movie buff or street-wise Hipster in your life.
A mere £3.50 gets you the full movie on the Social Screen website.
See the trailer and purchase here!