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Blackbird at EIFF

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Co-stars Andrew Rothney and Norman Maclean sat down to tell us about the glorious traditions and Scottish feel of Blackbird

Jamie Chambers’ debut feature film Blackbird, Andrew Rothney and Norman Maclean play young ballad singer Ruadhan and fellow villager and town bard Alec, villagers in a small Scottish town.

The film is nominated for the Michael Powell Award and the stars looked forward to the World Premiere with great enthusiasm.

“We’re delighted,” said Rothney. “I’m delighted to be a part of it and see Norman and all the cast and crew together, and to celebrate people’s work. Often it’s not an easy thing to do, to put on a film or a short or animation, but I think just to get here is delightful and it’s great to be here.”

Maclean spoke about the challenges in finding his character. “If somebody had told me, 2 years ago, that this would occur I’d have said, ‘You’re smoking something!’ It wasn’t on the cards at all.

“I’d done a lot of Gaelic television... but the young actors were so clued up, that was really salutary. So that kept me on my toes – even in my eighth decade I’m quite competitive so I wasn’t going to let them get away with it!

“Gradually it percolated into the system that I was the living representative of the old ways and this was a young man who’d fallen in love with the old ways and wanted to pick my brains.”

The film was also the first feature for Andrew Rothney, whom you are most likely to have seen on stage at The Royal Lyceum.

Compared with stage acting, he said, “What I found the most interesting is that you have to have really in-depth knowledge of where you’ve been and where you’re going to. I picked up so much knowledge about working with the cameramen. It’s a team effort and everyone’s in it together for the same purposes.

“That’s what I took from it, the ensemble feel from it. The support, too, because when you have that it makes it so much better.”

Along with the ensemble feeling, the film boasts a stirring soundtrack matched with stunning Scottish scenery. “I thought Blackbird itself was brilliant. Throughout the shoot I did not listen to it because it’s something that, in the film, my character can’t get, he can’t have it. So I don’t want to listen to it because it was so beautiful I knew exactly what it sounded like. It is a song that is still with me, I still listen to it from time-to-time, even now.”

The film is also an Audience Award Nominee, so don’t forget to cast your vote at the screening and have your say using #edfilmfestSAY.

Blackbird screens again tomorrow, Thursday 27 June, 18:25 at Edinburgh Cineworld. Buy your tickets online, by phone on 0131 623 8030, or at any Film Festival Box Office.

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