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Tracey Emin, 2002
Photo by Mary Barone

Tracey Emins Longchamp "Le Pilage" bag

A view of Margate

An earlier relic of Margate:
Tracey Emin's
The Hut, (1999)

London Calling
by Joe La Placa

Brit Art megastar Tracey Emin's first feature film, Top Spot, will be screened at the London Film Festival this week alongside new works by directors Mike Leigh and David O. Russell. According to the Guardian, the the total budget for the film was around 600,000 ($1.08 million). BBC3 has commissioned it for its fall schedule, to the tune of 116,000 ($208,000).

The film follows another foray into pop culture by the irrepressible yBa. Emin designed a chic update of Longchamps classic line of foldable "Le Pilage" bags, which impressed the art world with their no-brow attitude towards crossing over into the world of fashion.

But her uncompromising filmic debut, a harrowing, yet sometimes-funny story set in her hometown of Margate, will no doubt have tongues wagging. It is a bittersweet elegy to the seaside resort, seen through the eyes of six schoolgirls. (Its title refers to a Margate disco that Emin used to frequent.)

Speaking to the Evening Standard from Rome, Emin said, "I was really pleased of the fact that I didn't work with a script."

"Every morning I'd wake up and think, fucking hell? What are they going to say today? How are they going to tell the story?"

The ending, where Margate undergoes a radical transformation, is sure to surprise unsuspecting viewers.

Shot as an art film rather than a Hollywood blockbuster, Top Spot is reminiscent of Emin's short installation films.

So will the masses throng to see an art film?

"When I had a show at White Cube," said Emin, "5,000 people came, and when I had my show at Oxford 35,000 people went. There should be enough people who are interested in my work who will want to see it its about my art going to people so they don't then have to come to the gallery."

The London Film Festival runs Oct. 20-Nov. 4, 2004.

JOE LA PLACA is Artnets London representative. He can be reached at Send Email.