Devil's Gate

Film For the past week, I've had a photo of actress Laura Fraser on my desktop. It's a publicity shot for a film which she made in 2003 called Devil's Gate and shows her all wrapped up in a thick coat and scarf in the islands of Scotland, a small church in the background. She looks blue visually and emotionally. It's very evocative and would make a great poster.

The plot summary for the film, written by director Stuart St Paul is posted at the Internet Movie Database:
"Rachael is called to travel home by ex-boyfriend Rafe, to a small bleak island in the North sea that she ran away from some 5 years ago to find her wayward mother. The pretense is that her father Jake is dying. Matt, a city boy, island hopping to take in the festival of fire, hears that she has been tricked; for Jake is not dying. Matt hangs around to ensure her safety. A love triangle forms, with Rachael, the least interested and keen to leave, but clues to her mothers whereabouts appear, as do her own problems which both Rafe and Matt wish to help with. Nothing is what it seems, and no one will be the same again, as the truth begins to surface in very dangerous circumstances. There will be a burning."
Which sounds a bit like a cross between a Bill Forsyth movie and The Wicker Man.

According to the official website it took director St Paul four years to make the film from script to screen. Judging by that website, the people of the Shetland Islands (where this was filmed) also put some real work into aiding the production of the piece. There is a news page at that site which lists the general production dates and rather candidly the hiccups which happened in trying to find an international distribution. It does note though that it went on general release in Scotland in the same year. In 2003.

I first heard about the film last Sunday, purely by chance (actually because I wanted to see what Fraser had been up to since finishing Casanova). I looked at the photos and read the website and it dawned on me that I hadn't in fact missed an English release, that it just didn't happen, which is a tragedy because it looks like something I'd love to see. I loved John Sayles The Secret of Roan Inish and I'm getting the same vibe from this.

Yet another British film had completed production and seemed to have been seen by a very limited number of people. Which is just devastating. It's becoming increasingly clear that releasing films is a lottery -- that money is being spent on works like this which edge away from the norm but aren't entirely alien to the mainstream and they're sitting on a shelf somewhere without even a dvd release to call their own. What happens? Why is there a gap between putting money into the production of a film and it then getting a release?

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