Patchy, eccentric and very prolific, Tartan was one of the most recognisable and risk-taking British film distributors. We wave them a fond farewell
It wasn't entirely unexpected, but the sudden slide into administration of independent distributor Tartan Films is still a moment to give the British cinema world chills.
Fronted by the enthusiastically eccentric Hamish McAlpine, Tartan had been going in one form or another since 1984, but began its run as a major art-film player when it merged with another distributor, Metro, in 1991.
Tartan had been haemorrhaging top staff for some time, and been the subject of tentative takeover talk - but industry talk suggests that the outfit was undone when it set up its US arm (which itself closed its doors and auctioned off its
catalogue on June 1 this year). Tartan USA went big on Red Road to launch itself - a film not likely to sustain any commercial ambitions in America.
Whatever repercussions develop from all this messiness, McAlpine and Tartan deserve our gratitude for identifying and capitalising on specific trends in international cinema - most notably as pioneers, in this country at least, of J-horror and
Korean body-shock cinema, as well as pushing the envelope in all sorts of ways.
Last Thursday, Tartan staff turned up at its central London offices to discover that the doors were locked and that the company had ceased trading. By the beginning of this week, administrators Chantrey Vellacott DFK were already scrambling to
find buyers for the company's vast back catalogue. There was no shortage of interest.