Maria João Madeira at the Portuguese cinematheque asks me to send an image or a text at this time of crisis.
What do I send? A picture? Of what, or whom? I have an idea. When I last went to Portugal, I met a young film maker called Luis Marques, in Porto, and he wrote me an email about Pier Paolo Pasolini. In the email he talks about Pasolini’s film Teorema, in which a man visits a household and everyone in the family falls in love with him. A movie about disruption. I email Luis and ask him if i can write about him, about my trip to Porto. I ask Luis to send me a photo either of himself, or an image that he loves.
Then I wait. I hear nothing and so imagine what I might send Maria instead.
Maybe a picture of the face of Greta Garbo, the most timeless thing in cinema? How much I like her face at the moment, its reluctance to joy.
Or do I send a picture of the food I make each night, for my partner Gill, who works for the health service here in the UK and who is plugged in to the emergency? I’m having such a busy day that I have just half an hour to do this, to send Maria something. Maybe I send a song?
Part of me wants to send a photo of me crying, or chopping onions to make food for Gill, or swimming naked in a Scottish loch.
Instead, I glance to my mantelpiece and see that the sun is hitting this sculpture
It was carved by a Polish artist, Marcin Krupin, who lives here in Edinburgh. Its lit a little bit like Garbo was lit. It is luminous. Behind him I see my reflection, but what I like most is the thing on the sculpture’s head. The artist told me that it was a bit of driftwood that he found, and so he put it on the head. This made me laugh, but it also has some magic to it, or some poetry. I wish I had driftwood on my head. When I’m thinking of my films, I have driftwood on my head.
So I decide to send this image to Maria, a fun image of creatively, of accidental Garbo lighting. But then Luis does send me a photo. Here it is: