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Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 12:38 GMT
Festival offers feast of film
The Magician's House
The award-winning BBC drama The Magician's House
Welsh cinema has come a long way since the early days, writes Jon Gower, BBC Wales's Arts Correspondent.

Over a century ago, an enterprising American called Birt Acres shot Wales's first film, recording a royal visit to the Great Fine Art, Industrial and Maritime exhibition.

At the 12th International Film Festival of Wales, there is evidence of just how far Welsh film has come, with half a dozen new films from Wales being featured.

It may be premature to talk of a Welsh film industry.

But during the past few years there have been Oscar nominations for the portrait of poet Hedd Wyn, for Joanna Quinn for her animated Canterbury Tales and for the love story Solomon and Gaenor.

There have also been commercial successes too, such as Justin Kerrigan's Human Traffic.

Ring 2
Ring 2 is one of many foreign films at the festival
The foundations for the future are well laid.

This year's festival opens with a musical experiment.

Marc Evans follows his films House of America and Resurrection Man with his latest work, Beautiful Mistake, which derives from one simple idea - invite John Cale, the legendary rock and roller, to play with an assortment of Welsh bands.

Then film it.

So over nine days in Cardiff's Coal Exchange the bands lined up to perform with the Garnant-born, classically-trained former member of the Velvet Underground.

'Mystic powers'

They included Catatonia, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals and the Manic Street Preachers' lead singer James Dean Bradfield.

Simply shot and musically arresting, the film underlines the accomplishment of three generations of Welsh popsters.

The Testimony of Taliesin Jones puts 12-year-old actor Paul Macleod in the limelight.

Based on the novel by Tenby writer Rhydian Brook this is the tale of a young boy who believes he has mystic powers.

The festival marks the debut for Swansea-born director Euros Lyn.

Jon Gower, BBC Wales's arts correspondent
Jon Gower: 'Welsh cinema flourishing'
A Totally Mindblowing Day Today is the first Welsh film to employ the principles of the Dogma group of Danish directors - using improvised acting and hand-held camerawork.

One of the Hollywood Ten marks a radical departure for director Karl Francis.

After the gritty depiction of Valleys Streetlife his latest movie couples an American theme with Spanish money and stars Jeff Goldblum and Greta Scacchi.

Set in the States during the McCarthy communist witchhunts, it has been seven years in the making.

In Oed yr Addewid, Emlyn Williams charts an old man's descent into senility on the Llyn peninsula, while Cant y Cant depicts a day in the life of a small time drugs dealer in Cardiff as things begin to fall apart.

An American writer once said that a people that does not see itself on celluloid begins to believe it does not exist.

These new Welsh films emphasise the existence of a very varied people called the Welsh at the start of this new century.

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See also:

27 Mar 00 | Wales
Welsh movie misses Oscar glory
20 Sep 00 | UK
Premièring the Rhyl thing
01 May 00 | Wales
BBC wins at Welsh Baftas
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