Margaret Tait’s (1918–1999) pride of place in her native Scotland - and even more ardently in the Highlands and on the island of Orkney - manifested itself in exquisitely intimate films that combine poetry, portraiture, music, art, experimental documentary, home movie, and animation.
The remoteness of Orkney provided an environment in which her creativity flourished independent of the male-dominated, traditional film industry. However, distance and independence meant that Tait’s 30-odd films have not been widely seen beyond screenings at a handful of film festivals. A true auteur, she wrote, directed, photographed, edited, animated, and almost always financed her films alone.
We are delighted to present one of Tait’s earliest shorts Portrait of Ga (1952, UK, 1952, 5 mins) - a portrait of her mother filmed on Orkney - as well as her first and last feature, Blue, Black Permanent. A work of extraordinary emotion, the film takes the form of a remembrance, with troubled Edinburgh photographer Barbara (Celia Imrie) attempting to tell her boyfriend the story - sketched in flashback - of her mother, who died in the sea off Orkney when she was nine, some 40 years earlier, leaving her guilty and confused. This is about the struggle to give shape and meaning to life, and its rare attempt to do this so directly.