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Films by and about Margaret Tait

Ute Aurand in Person
Screening on Film
$15 Special Event Tickets

It was in summer 1993 when I first saw films by Margaret Tait. Not in a cinema, but at a 16mm editing table in the Filmmakers Co-op office in London. The room was not dark enough, the image small, but I was inspired and deeply touched by something that is difficult to put into words. Till today I ask myself, what is it, that I admire so much in Margaret Tait's films? They are timeless and speak directly to our inner self, plain and clear and complex at the same time. Her images are simple, nothing special, her camera movements motivated by an inner impulse, often surprising, like her editing. If we see her films, something remains secret, inexplicable but not hidden. Tait said: "The cinema I care about is at the level of poetry." Perhaps this best explains what defies explanation.

In 1994 I organized the first retrospective of her films in Berlin and several cinemas in Germany. Because I wanted to see all her films I visited Tait in Orkney in summer 1995. We sat down in her living room, and she projected her 16mm films in an empty picture frame. After studying film in Rome in 1951, Tait actually wanted to make features—not shorts—but it was not until the age of seventy-three that she was able to realize her only feature-length film Blue Black Permanent. Luckily, she wasn't given the means earlier, otherwise her idiosyncratic shorter films—which today give her an important place in the canon of poetic film—would not exist. 

I have selected seven short films for the program to show a range, starting with one of her earliest films, A Portrait of Ga, from 1952 and ending with her last film, Garden Pieces, from 1998. The Tait program is framed by two of my own short films, which I filmed during my visit to Orkney in 1995. – Ute Aurand

Films by and about Margaret Tait introduction and post-screening discussion with Ute Aurand, HFA Creative Arts Archivist Max Goldberg and HFA Director Haden Guest. ©Harvard Film Archive

PROGRAM

  • On My Way to Orkney

    Directed by Ute Aurand.
    UK/Germany , 1998, 16mm, color, 4 min.
    Print source: Filmmaker
    a brown horse with white legs sitting in the grass
  • A Portrait of Ga

    Directed by Margaret Tait.
    UK, 1952, 16mm, color, 5 min.
    Print source: LUX
    a close-up side portrait of an older white woman with white hair
  • Aerial

    Directed by Margaret Tait.
    UK, 1974, 16mm, color, 4 min.
    Print source: LUX
    a view through a window of snow and trees with a bird on the sill
  • The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo

    Directed by Margaret Tait.
    UK, 1955, 16mm, color, 7 min.
    Print source: LUX
  • Colour Poems

    Directed by Margaret Tait.
    UK, 1974, 16mm, color, 12 min.
    Print source: LUX
  • Calypso

    Directed by Margaret Tait.
    UK, 1955, DCP, color, 4 min.
    DCP source: LUX
    a frame of the hand-painted film of a flower shape in purple, yellow and green against white
  • Happy Bees

    Directed by Margaret Tait.
    UK, 1954, 16mm, color, 17 min.
    Print source: LUX
    a meadow of pink flowers
  • Garden Pieces

    Directed by Margaret Tait.
    UK, 1998, 16mm, color, 12 min.
    Print source: LUX
    a close-up of a pink poppy
  • Glimpses from a Visit to Orkney in Summer 1995

    Directed by Ute Aurand.
    Germany/UK, 2020, 16mm, color, silent, 5 min.
    Print source: Filmmaker
    a close-up of hands leafing through a book

Part of film series

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Being In a Place.
Rediscovering Margaret Tait

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