The FILM FOCUS FESTIVAL 2019 is a celebration of film in Orkney running 01 – 23 November. It will run in 22 venues across 13 islands and parishes featuring a diverse range of films and events with something for everyone. The festival saw more than 4,000 people attend film events last year, and we hope this year will be just as popular.
Events are happening across the length and breadth of Orkney with something for everyone. There are two mini film festivals – Out Of This World in Shapinsay and West Fest in Stromness – the mobile Screen Machine, silent cinema, local short films, a film quiz, talks and readings, student films, new film commissions celebrating the life and work of Margaret Tait, Take One Action (Orkney), Into Film Festival screenings for young people, and even a film-themed disco!
Mark Jenkins, chair of West Side Cinema and project manager of the festival, said, ‘The festival helps organisations focus their programming ideas. Last year was a great success and it’s fantastic to see ideas develop year on year. It’s also an opportunity for new organisations to try things out, and the community screening sponsorship we get allows some of those places that can’t advertise year round do that during the festival.’
The Screen Machine is returning once again for 15 days, visiting six islands: Eday, Rousay, Sandy, Shapinsay, Stronsay and Westray. The Phoenix Cinema will be running for all 23 days including a silent Laurel & Hardy show with piano accompaniment from Neil Brand. The Screen In The Square in St. Margaret’s Hope has three film screenings including a Projectionist’s Choice. The Gable End Theatre in Hoy has five events including a film and suite of new music. The Graand Owld Byre in Westray and the Kelp Store in Papay are involved again this year. Both have recently organised more regular community cinemas, as have Shapinsay Soond Cinema, who this year are running the Out of This World film festival with seven screenings under a space/sci-fi theme. Pop-up community cinemas are in Burray Hall and North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory. The Pier Arts Centre is continuing its Margaret Tait 100 celebrations with new film commissions on show and a visit to Sunnybrae Centre. Take One Action (Orkney) is a new venture. The UK-wide Into Film Festival for 5 to 19-year-olds has three local screenings including an after-screening writing activity on how to analyse film. The libraries in Kirkwall and Stromness will have iPads on display showcasing the recent Orkney Story Stack project. West Side Cinema celebrates its 7th birthday with a bumper West Fest programme of seven feature films over nine days, plus a West Fest hub at The Royal Hotel with evening events including local short films, a film quiz and an Orkney Arts Society talk. Its birthday and the end of the festival will be celebrated in style with a 25-year anniversary screening of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, followed by a glam disco and pop-up bar.
This year’s festival has been made possible by strategic support from Film Hub Scotland, which is part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, led by Glasgow Film and funded by BFI and Creative Scotland. Further support comes from West Side Cinema and Orkney Islands Council. The Screen Machine has been supported locally by Pentland Ferries and Orkney Ferries. Cooke Aquaculture have sponsored six community screenings and two special events.
‘The range of events is fantastic and we have a super infrastructure of venues and organisations to work with. We also have MSc Film, Exhibition & Curation students from the University of Edinburgh visiting for four days and we hope to be able to work with them for next year’s programme. But for this year, I hope folk enjoy the festival wherever, and whenever, they can make it.’ Mark Jenkins