Tilda shuns glitz in human rights film
THE Oscar is gleaming on the mantelpiece and the door mat is knee-deep in scripts from Hollywood, offering roles that would once have gone to Glenn Close or Meryl Streep.
But Tilda Swinton has never been one to do the obvious. The Scots actress has temporarily turned her back on Tinseltown and is instead working for free on a top-secret human rights documentary that is currently filming in Scotland and is predicted to cause a big controversy.
The documentary, called The New Ten Commandments and backed with 100,000 of lottery cash from public film body Scottish Screen, is being made to mark the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It is understood 47-year-old Swinton is working with director Mark Cousins on one of the 10 mini-documentaries that will make up the film.
Swinton is not the only big name to feature in the The New Ten Commandments. Irvine Welsh is believed to be among a host of prominent non-actors involved in the project.
The remarkable turn in Swinton's career comes just weeks after she received her Academy Award as best supporting actress for her performance as a ruthless lawyer opposite George Clooney in Michael Clayton. Swinton's Oscar marked the summit of her ascent to the Hollywood A-list, with other highlights including the comicbook adaptation Constantine, in which she was an angel, and The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, playing the White Witch.
The New Ten Commandments is being produced by Nick Higgins, a Scot whose documentary A Massacre Foretold screened at Edinburgh Film Festival last year. It investigated the massacre of unarmed villagers during civil unrest in Mexico in the Nineties.
Higgins told Scotland on Sunday he could not reveal any details about his new film because any information would put people's lives at risk: "It will be a film that generates a lot of attention. It deals with human rights, so you can imagine what it might mean."
Director Cousins said: "I would be happy to talk to you about it, but… I've been told to keep my trap shut. None of the directors can say anything."
Britain has been hauled before the European Court of Human Rights on several occasions in recent years and there has been controversy over policies on detention and deportation of refugees. Last month, Scotland on Sunday reported the case of Jojo Jako Yakob, a Syrian youth who faces execution in Syria for being gay if the Government proceeds with its intention to deport him.
And Yurdugal Ay, a Kurdish woman fleeing persecution in Turkey, was held in the Dungavel detention centre in Lanarkshire, for a year, along with her four children, before being deported to Germany in 2003.
Swinton, who went to Fettes College in Edinburgh, became a darling of the arthouse scene early in her career for movies such as Derek Jarman's The Last Of England.
She moved back to Scotland several years ago, first to Easter Ross and then to Nairn, along with her partner, the playwright and artist John Byrne, and their twins. Recent press coverage has focused on the fact that, while living with Byrne, she maintains a relationship with Sandro Kopp, a painter she met while making The Chronicles Of Narnia.
In an interview in today's Scotland on Sunday Review magazine, Byrne insists "I've never been happier." He asks: "What's the point in being cynical? You'll only end up having your cynicism proved right." Asked what he thinks about Kopp's work, he says: "I wouldn't want to embarrass him. He's a sweetheart, a charming man."
IN REVIEW: JOHN BYRNE ON ART, LOVE AND HIS LIFE WITH TILDA
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