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


For this years FILM FOCUS FESTIVAL we’ve a bumper programme of events from 01 – 09 NOV.

We’re celebrating our 7th birthday with 7 feature films, a special after screening birthday party DISCO, and we’ll have a film festival hub for three nights at the Royal Hotel.


Our FILM FOCUS FESTIVAL series kicks off tonight with a thrilling must-watch documentary!

Doors open 7:15 for a 7:45 start
£5 / £3 student and Young Scot card

Brilliantly capturing a remarkable performer near the peak of her prodigious power, Amazing Grace is a thrilling must-watch documentary for Aretha Franklin fans.

By 1971, Aretha Franklin was known as the Queen of Soul. In the culmination of five years of chart-topping hits, she and her producer, Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records, decided her next recording would take her back to the music of her youth, to the world of American Gospel music.

Amazing Grace was not intended as a swan song, but it would turn out to be an elegiac moment in American musical history as well as a salute to the gospel heritage that had transformed American music in the 1960s.

Recorded live at Rev James Cleveland’s church in Watts, California in front of a lively audience/congregation, Amazing Grace would become the highest selling album of Franklin’s career and the most popular Gospel album of all time.

However, the film was never released publicly. Until now.



The second feature film in our FILM FOCUS FESTIVAL series

Doors open 1:30 for a 2PM start
Pay on the way out what you think it’s worth!
Ratings Info mild fantasy action violence, infrequent mild bad language

The endearing Iron Giant tackles ambitious topics and complex human relationships with a steady hand and beautifully animated direction from Brad Bird.

Something huge is on the horizon. Hogarth Hughes just rescued an enormous robot that fell from the stars to Earth. Now young Hogarth has one very big friend and an even bigger problem: How do you keep at 50-foot-tall, steel-eating (junkyard cars are especially tasty) giant a secret? It’s even harder when a nosy government agent arrives in town to hunt down the ‘alien invader’ and the combined land, sea and air might of the US military is sent to demolish the giant. The result: an incredible adventure that’s part metal, part magic, all heart.



The third feature film in our FILM FOCUS FESTIVAL series

Doors open 7:15 for a 7:45 start
£5 / £3 student and Young Scot card
Ratings Info strong language, racist language, violence, nudity

Smart, vibrant, and urgent without being didactic, Do the Right Thing is one of Spike Lee’s most fully realised efforts and one of the most important films of the 1980s.

It’s the hottest day of the year in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood of Brooklyn, and tensions are growing there, with the only local businesses being a Korean grocery and Sal’s Pizzeria. Mookie, Sal’s delivery boy, manages to always be at the center of the action.


7:30pm -11pm
Free entrance
Upstairs function room
The Royal Hotel
Victoria St

Join us at the West Side Hub for a mix of local short films and music.


7:30pm -11pm
Free entrance
Upstairs function room
The Royal Hotel
Victoria St

Join us at the West Side Hub for a mix of short films, music and a FILM QUIZ.


7:30pm -11pm
Upstairs function room
The Royal Hotel
Victoria St

Join us at the West Side Hub for an Orkney Arts Society talk (60 mins) followed by a mix of short films and music.


Local filmmaker and editor Mark Jenkins will discuss how rhythm and structure have such an influence on his filmmaking practice.


The fourth feature film in our FILM FOCUS FESTIVAL series

Doors open 7:15 for a 7:45 start
£5 / £3 student and Young Scot card
Ratings Info infrequent strong language

Follow Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall. With no ropes or safety gear, he completed arguably the greatest feat in rock climbing history. From award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin, comes FREE SOLO, a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock… the 3,200ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park… without a rope.


The fifth feature film in our FILM FOCUS FESTIVAL series

Doors open 7:15 for a 7:45 start
£5 / £3 student and Young Scot card
Ratings Info very strong language, discriminatory terms, sexualised nudity

Diamantino casts a singularly surreal eye on an ambitious array of subjects, emerging with a cinematic experience as inscrutable as it is unforgettable.

Diamantino (Carloto Cotta), the world’s premiere soccer star, loses his special touch and ends his career in disgrace. Searching for a new purpose, he sets out on a delirious odyssey in which he must confront neo-fascism, the refugee crisis, genetic modification, and abuse at the hands of his evil twin sisters, all part of a deranged hunt for the source of genius.


The sixth feature film in our FILM FOCUS series

Doors open 1:30 for a 2PM start

We’re working with Young Film Programmers to bring you a surprise film – WHAT WILL IT BE?



The seventh and last feature film in our FILM FOCUS series

And we’re celebrating big time as it’s West Side’s 7th BIRTHDAY PARTY!

Join us for an after screening disco, with DJ West Side playing all the top disco tracks, so dress GLAM  and remember your dancing shoes.

and no need to BYO, we have the Strangely Delicious Bar

Late opening until 12PM! 

This event is kindly supported by Cooke Aquaculture

Doors open 7:15 for a 7:45 start
£5 / £3 student and Young Scot card
Ratings Info Contains strong language, sex references and threat

A cult classic that combines the sequined sensations of drag culture with the thrills and conflicts of an unlikely adventure on the road.

The usually menacing British actor Terence Stamp does a complete turnaround as Bernadette, an aging transsexual who tours the backwaters of Australia with her stage partners, Mitzi (Hugo Weaving) and Adam/Felicia (Guy Pearce). Their act, well-known in Sydney, involves wearing lots of makeup and gowns and lip-synching to records, but Bernadette is getting a bit tired of it all and is also haunted by the bizarre death of an old loved one. Nevertheless, when Mitzi and Felicia get an offer to perform in the remote town of Alice Springs at a casino, Bernadette decides to tag along. The threesome ventures into the outback with Priscilla, a lavender-colored school bus that doubles as dressing room and home on the road. Along the way, the act encounters any number of strange characters, as well as incidents of homophobia, while Bernadette becomes increasingly concerned about the path her life has taken.


Doors open 7:15 for a 7:45 start
£5 / £3 student and Young Scot card
Ratings Info: moderate threat, infrequent strong language

We’re tying in with the Stromness Museum conference SCAPA 100: The Orkney Story, to bring you this nail biting documentary.

A commercial diver is stranded on the seabed with 5 minutes of oxygen, but no chance of rescue for more than 30 minutes. With access to amazing archive, this is the true story of one man’s impossible fight for survival.


Doors open 7:15 for a 7:45 start
£5 / £3 student and Young Scot card
Ratings Info: infrequent moderate injury detail

Treating its timely themes with a deceptively light touch, Woman at War is easy to enjoy in the moment, yet its impact lingers long after the closing credits roll.

Halla is a fifty-year-old independent woman. But behind the scenes of a quiet routine, she leads a double life as a passionate environmental activist. Known to others only by her alias “The Woman of the Mountain,” Halla secretly wages a one-woman-war on the local aluminum industry. As Halla’s actions grow bolder, from petty vandalism to outright industrial sabotage, she succeeds in pausing the negotiations between the Icelandic government and the corporation building a new aluminum smelter. But right as she begins planning her biggest and boldest operation yet, she receives an unexpected letter that changes everything.



We’re on the road taking this film to our friends at Hoy Kirk Heritage Centre.

What’s the connection? The score was arranged by Peter Maxwell Davies while he was staying at Muckle Hoose in Rackwick, Hoy.

There will be the usual warm welcome at Hoy Kirk Heritage Centre with refreshments and nibbles from 6:30pm. The event ties in with the Friday evening ferry from Stromness to Moaness departing 5:45pm and returning at 10pm. Make sure to book with Orkney Ferries.

The Boy Friend began life as Sandy Wilson’s small-scale pastiche of British musical comedies of the 1920s. But director Ken Russell, notorious for his onscreen excesses, fashioned a humongous parody of the Busby Berkeley film musicals of the 1930s, staged on a scale that made Berkeley seem stylistically modest.

Fashion model Twiggy plays Polly Browne, an aspiring musical comedy star, working as stage manager of a production of The Boy Friend. She is transformed into a star when she replaces leading lady Rita Monroe (Glenda Jackson, unbilled), who twists her ankle seconds before the curtain goes up. Before the evening is over, Polly is scampering over outsized sets, and ducking around seemingly thousands of chorus girls and boys. Christopher Gable, who plays Polly’s on-stage leading man, also choreographed the lavish musical numbers.


Doors open 7:15 for a 7:45 start
£5 / £3 student and Young Scot card
Ratings Info: strong violence

A tragicomedy initially set in the jianghu-criminal underworld-setting, ASH IS PUREST WHITE is less a gangster movie than a melodrama. With a three-part structure, it begins by following the quick-witted Qiao (Tao Zhao) and her mobster boyfriend Bin (Fan Liao) as they stake out their turf against rivals and upstarts in 2001 postindustrial Datong before expanding out into an epic narrative of how abstract forces shape individual lives, and continues Jia Zhangke’s body of work as a record of 21st-century China and its warp-speed transformations.


Doors open 7:15 for a 7:45 start
£5 / £3 student and Young Scot card

It’s that time of year again, and another West Side collaboration with Orkney International Science Festival.

This highly acclaimed documentary, co-produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, goes beyond the current climate change narrative to highlight fresh approaches and new solutions, from tidal power to direct air capture of carbon dioxide. Several participants will be present to answer questions afterwards, including Prof. Peter Wadhams, who in the film highlights Arctic methane dangers from permafrost melt, Neil Kermode of the European Marine Energy Centre, and Orbital Marine Power.



Doors open 7:15 for a 7:45 start
£5 / £3 student and Young Scot card
BBFC INSIGHT strong language, references to child abuse, drug misuse

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Nadine Labaki’s CAPERNAUM (“Chaos”) tells the story of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life.

CAPERNAUM follows Zain, a gutsy streetwise child as he flees his negligent parents, survives through his wits on the streets, takes care of Ethiopian refugee Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw) and her baby son, Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole), being jailed for a crime, and finally, seeks justice in a courtroom. CAPERNAUM was made with a cast of non-professionals playing characters whose lives closely parallel their own. Following her script, Labaki placed her performers in scenes and asked them to react spontaneously with their own words and gestures. When the non-actors’s instincts diverged from the written script, Labaki adapted the screenplay to follow them. While steeped in the quiet routines of ordinary people, CAPERNAUM is a film with an expansive palette: without warning it can ignite with emotional intensity, surprise with unexpected tenderness, and inspire with flashes of poetic imagery. Although it is set in the depths of a society’s systematic inhumanity, CAPERNAUM is ultimately a hopeful film that stirs the heart as deeply as it cries out for action.

Animation Workshops during Shopping Week

Attention all filmmakers! We’re running a fantastic series of workshops during Shopping Week. Remember Lizzy Hobbs? She’s back again……


To commemorate the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet in 1919, West Side Cinema and Stromness Museum are running a series of free workshops during Shopping Week with London based animator Lizzy Hobbs.
Animating Scapa 100 will create playful, collaborative, cut-out animation focusing on the more extraordinary parts of the scuttling.
OPEN TO ALL AGES, join in for all four workshops or just one or two.
All workshops: 10 am – 1 pm Marjory Corrigall room, STROMNESS LIBRARY

BOOKING ADVISED to avoid disappointment. Drop us a message on our contact page here


Monday 22 July 10 – 1

Themes: Underwater

This first workshop will include a visit to Stromness Museum for research, note taking and drawing pictures, returning to the Library to plan a narrative.

Tuesday 23 July 10 – 1

Themes: Life on board

Roller skating, piglets, the rarity of an egg. No access to a dentist!

Wednesday 24 July 10 – 1

Themes: Scuttle!

The amazing scene witnessed by 160 schoolchildren from Stromness Higher Grade School on board the Flying Kestrel – sinking ships, white flag surrender, gunfire!

Thursday 25 July 10 – 1

Themes: Salvage

The amazing feat of raising the vessels and taking them to Rosyth for salvaging.