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Watch: Margaret Tait’s 4 Minutes Of ‘A Portrait of Ga’


This four-minute portrait of the filmmaker’s mother combines the texture of 1970s-color-saturated found footage with an oddly avant-garde structure. The editing rhythms are distinctly recognizable for anyone who has watched 70s home movies; the Kodak would often linger and jerk-pan for about twenty seconds, then (because the film ran out, because only so much could fit in the camera) smash cut into another such vignette.

But Margaret Tait isn’t content to offer up her family’s footage for Home Movie Day; she also gives the film an elegiac, almost spooky quality with narration that is equally airy (“who did the ant-elope? A buf-felo”) and abstruse: at the end, our narrator tells us that our subject came from the Orkney Islands, but we’re never told if that’s the location of all the film’s landscapes. (A less tenebrous film would have established Orkney in the first minute.) Will appeal to fans of 1970s docs, experimental work, and to those who like a view into a vanished world.

A Portrait of Ga was shown on Day Three of the Femme Filmmakers Festival.


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