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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 18, 2005

Scottish Filmmaker Margaret Tait's 'Film-Poems' To Be Featured At UI Oct. 29

The experimental short films of pioneering Scottish poet and filmmaker Margaret Tait will be featured at the University of Iowa Saturday, Oct. 29, beginning at 2 p.m. in room 101 Becker Communication Studies Building. "Margaret Tait: Subjects and Sequences" will screen films spanning Tait's nearly 50 years in film. This traveling retrospective is free and open to the public, sponsored by the UI Institute for Cinema and Culture and by UI International Programs.

Sarah Neely, a UI alumna and currently a lecturer in film studies at University of Paisley, Scotland, is returning to introduce the program and participate in a post-screening discussion. The presentation is divided into two programs with the first beginning at 2 p.m., and the second at 4 p.m., both composed of Tait's newly restored 16 mm film-poems.

Tait's use of rhythm, pattern and color in her bristling evocations of the Scottish landscape -- both urban and rural -- give the films a rare potency. Organizers say the works of this groundbreaking poet of both word and image offer challenging new perspectives for those interested in ethnography, experimental films, or British cinema.

Premiered at the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival, "Margaret Tait: Subjects and Sequences," is a touring exhibition that is bringing these rare and important films to prestigious venues across North America, including the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, Calif., Cinematexas in Austin, Texas, the Cinematheque Ontario in Toronto, Canada, the University of Buffalo, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A LUX project, the show is curated by British filmmaker Peter Todd in connection with Scottish Screen, and is supported by Arts Council England, Esmée Fairburn Foundation and Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney.

At the time of her death in 1999 at age 80, Tait had produced more than 30 films -- including the 1992 feature "Blue Black Permanent" -- and published three collections of poetry and two volumes of short stories. Tait, who originally trained as a doctor, studied at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematographia in Rome from 1950-1952. Afterward, she worked in Sutherland, then Edinburgh, until finally returning to her native home, the Orkney Islands. 

A truly independent filmmaker, she established her own film company, Anacona Films, and self-financed all but three of her productions. From abstract, hand-painted animations to film poetry or vivid observational portraits of her immediate surroundings, Tait's films stretch across an impressive range of experimental styles. Tait, who used Lorca's phrase "stalking the image" to describe her own process of working, once remarked at the "sheer wonder and astonishment at how much can be seen in any place that you choose...if you really look."

For more information or special accommodations to attend this presentation, contact Ellen Sweeney at the Institute for Cinema and Culture at 335-1348.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Ellen Sweeney, Institute for Cinema and Culture, 319-335-1348,