The Holyrood Files

The Holyrood Files


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

"I know an elephant when I see one and I know a shambles when I see one." - Christine Grahame (MSP)

You can have "Scotland's Fahrenheit 9/11", if you want to stuff another quote into your pipe and smoke it. The rest of us will keep our minds open. The construction of the Scottish Parliament is a wildly contentious political hot-potato throughout the Scottish media, costing more than £430 million and taking six years to build - £200m over-budget and two-and-a-half years over schedule. It's an undeniably impressive structure and one of Scotland's greatest tourist attractions, taking over 300,000 visitors.

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Edinburgh filmmaker Stuart Greig's first feature, The Holyrood Files, tries to forge a clear argument as to the immensely damaging effects of bureaucracy, political footholding, character assassination, the deaths of the primary creative forces behind the project - First Minister Donald Dewar and architect Enrique Miralles - the Fraser inquiry and the secondary independent inquiry on the construction process.

Human complications pile one on top of another, causing work-related bottlenecks, diversion of human resources, incremental changes and work to be redone. It is to Greig's credit that the storytelling is kept primarily visual, using on-camera interviews, voice-over, computer graphics, official document extracts and crisp editing to keep things on a clear path.

The film presents a superbly constructed and solid amalgamation of evidence and opinion, chronologically from conception to finished product, using most of the events that caused the temporal and monetary costs to spiral out of control. Using the editing structure to provide dual cause-and-effect becomes tiring after a while, but Grieg avoids the Moore rhetoric by skilfully choosing battles he knows he can win with his reasoned and methodical approach.

Indeed, upon completion we see ourselves coming full circle in the political games of Holyrood. The first debate in the Scottish Parliament, subsequent to devolution and election, is about the location and cost of the building. An irony among hundreds. See for yourself.

Reviewed on: 24 Aug 2005
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Expose of the building of the Scottish Parliament.

Director: Stuart Greig

Writer: Stuart Greig

Year: 2005

Runtime: 87 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2005

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