Si longtemps pour le moment

For 35 weeks we’ve brought you various on line initiatives – Fire Side Cinema (short film programmes), Bite Size Cinema (films, festivals, articles and jigsaws), East Side Cinema (Olympic themed shorts and feature), the We Are One Festival, and the weekly What’s On At Home to view for free. 

But all good things come to an end. We’ve decided to take a break from the cinema for a while. We feel that with the local restrictions lifting a little, nows the time to get out as much as possible rather than watching the screen. Look out for your family, friends and community, make a point of meeting them within the current guidelines to make sure they are doing ok.

I’m sure you’re all wondering when we plan to open the cinema again. We don’t feel it’s the right environment to open just now. West Side is such a social space, and it just wouldn’t be West Side under current restrictions. In the meantime we’ll be planning for our new sound and vision installation and look forward to welcoming you back as soon as we can. 

We’d also like to wish you all the best for Christmas and a positive New Year. As a little Christmas gift, a final on line Jigsaw. This director was a hit not only at West Side Cinema but North Side Cinema too. Sadly no longer with us, but her words will ring true in these strange times:

‘In my films I always wanted to make people see deeply. I don’t want to show things, but to give people the desire to see’.

Complete the jigsaw here:

Feel The Warmth

With a cold front on it’s way, we thought we’d warm things up with this:

Catalan Film Festival returns with a hybrid edition 19 November – 6 December 2020. An exciting expanded programme of films that will bring Mediterranean vibes to Scotland’s local cinemas and households – as the festival adapts to the new reality by offering its entire programme of films, talks and events online.

And it’s pretty good value:

£5 – Features Session Pass

  • At least 3 contemporary Films
  • Exclusive Q&As with the directors
  • 2 different programmes

£10 – Festival Pass

  • 11 Feature Films
  • 28 Short Films
  • Over 10 interviews with directors
  • At least 5 Panels or Lectures or deep talks around the subjects covered by the films you watch

£2.50 – Short Films/Classic Pass

  • 4 sessions to chose from
  • 28 short Films
  • Q&As with most directors

Head over to their website and feel the warmth!


We’d like to share this great online festival from Take One Action, and in particular their novel approach to making films accessible to all.

Hosted online for the first time ever, Take One Action Film Festival will showcase some of the most urgent, inspiring and challenging international cinema exploring social and environmental justice. The festival will also include live Q&As, conversations and workshops.

Taking place from 16 – 27 September, the festival will comprise 12 feature films and 14 short films, which audiences will be able to watch at any time during the festival dates. To complement, inform and anchor the films within current opportunities for action, international filmmakers and campaigners will engage with live Q&As at 20:30 each evening of the festival. Audiences will also be able to join 4 additional live events – workshops, panel sessions etc. – at 16:00 on each Saturday and Sunday. (All live events will be accessible free of charge, from anywhere in the world.)

Accessibility remains a key aspect of the festival:

  • all films will have full subtitles (“closed captions”) for D/deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences
  • all Q&As will have live captions for D/deaf and hard-of hearing audiences
  • audiences can select how much to pay depending on their circumstances
  • live BSL interpretation will be offered for the opening and closing film Q&As, as well as for Pier Kids.

Pricing Policy: Take One Action invite audiences to choose what to pay for each film based on personal circumstances, from £2 up (all they ask is that you be honest with yourself and your financial situation).

If you require free access contact, indicating the title of the film you wish to watch. 


OISF 2020

September usually sees West Side Cinema collaborate with our friends at Orkney International Science Festival, but this year we’ve had to give it a miss. However, as the festival is going totally on line (and free), there’s lots of content to watch from 03 – 09 September.

Meanwhile, here’s a little reminder of our 2017 collaboration on the theme of Nikola Tesla, in the form of another Bite Size Jigsaw (click on the image).

Engage: Journey Through The Archives

We’d like to share this event from our friends at Driftwood Cinema – two archive films (available now) and a zoom discussion this Thursday 20th August.

Shona Thomson, curator of A Kind of Seeing, has brought together a double bill of different cinematic perspectives on South-West Scotland drawn from the archives and bonded by the journeys they take us on.

Watch the films online, then meet the filmmakers at 6pm on Thursday 20 August on Zoom and on Driftwood Cinema’s Facebook livestream:


In 1972, Mark Littlewood, one of Scotland’s leading documentary filmmakers and cinematographers, was commissioned to make a film exploring and promoting the vast area from Galloway to Girvan. THE QUIET COUNTRY (24 mins) was his response starring city slickers Tony Roper and Xanthi Gardner on a blissed-out road trip through time and place. Watch the film on the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive website:

Over 40 years later, artist filmmakers Emma Dove and Mark Lyken acquired an elderly Hackney Cab from London and toured the Dumfriesshire countryside creating their work BONESHAKER (16 mins) by gathering footage and interviewing people in the back of the taxi studio about their memories, connections and relationships to the region. Watch the film on Vimeo:

ZOOM DISCUSSION: At 6pm on Thursday 20 August, Shona will be on Zoom with the filmmakers Mark Littlewood and Mark Lyken to discuss the similarities and differences between their work, as well as show a few clips from their films. Register on Eventbrite to receive the Zoom link:

Sound from the Edge of the World

Come on a journey to Orkney through sound + rare archive film footage.

Watch online – from 6pm Friday 31 July to 6pm Friday 7 August.

+ Free discussion on Mon 3 August at 6pm

Weaving together footage from 1930s onwards found in the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive, the FEC/SfS collective of emerging international curators, sound designers and composers test the boundaries of sound and image. 

A warm welcome awaits you at the edge of the (sound) world…


For one week only, watch this immersive film and sound voyage online. Inspired by the collective experiencing the landscape, traditions and rhythms of island life in Orkney, the programme is a quartet of themed films – Transportation > History > Food > Activity – featuring the likes of Kirkwall’s famous Ba’ game and the Old Man of Hoy. 

Originally commissioned to be performed live at Filmhouse Cinema in March 2020 as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival’s 2020 Retrospective exploring innovation in film scores, the students’ creative collaboration of curating and re-purposing archive footage and creating beautiful experimental soundtracks for the films can now be watched exclusively online for one week only. 

Curated & created by University of Edinburgh postgraduate students in: Sound Design / Composition for Screen / Film, Exhibition and Curation. 

Read the students’ introduction to the project here:


Just before 6pm on Friday 31 July we’ll send you the links to watch the film which lasts just over 50 minutes.

FREE DISCUSSION ON MON 3 AUG: When you register, you’ll also receive details of a short discussion we’ll be hosting via Zoom on Monday 3 August at 6pm. Join us to hear more from the students and partners involved in the project – what inspired them, how the collaboration worked – and to share your response to the films. Please note this event will be recorded. 

EAST SIDE CINEMA goes to Tokyo

With the Tokyo Olympics sadly being postponed, we’re marking the absence with a programme of short sports films to support the 1965 documentary TOKYO OLYMPIAD, often cited as one of the best sports documentaries of all time.

TOKYO OLYMPIAD (1965 / 163 mins) Kon Ichikawa

The 1964 Summer Olympics were seen as vitally important to the Japanese government. Much of Japan’s infrastructure had been destroyed during World War II and the Olympics were seen as a chance to re-introduce Japan to the world and show off its new modernised roads and industry as well as its burgeoning economy.

Director Kon Ichikawa’s vision of the Tokyo Olympics was controversial at the time as it was the opposite of what the government wanted and expected of the film. Ichikawa presented a film which was very much a cinematic and artistic recording of the events rather than the journalistic, historical recording that was desired by its financiers. As a result, the Japanese Olympic Committee forced Ichikawa to re-edit the picture to better suit their requirements, with the final, re-edited, version clocking in at 93 minutes rather than the original 170 minutes.

But the version you can see here on the Olympic Channel is the full length, digitally restored, directors cut. You can choose whether you want to watch it as a marathon, or a relay!

Select HERE for the full EAST SIDE CINEMA programme.

Bite Size Cinema 12 July

A soupçon of film curiosities.

This edition of Bite Size Cinema is all about hairstyles!

Long-Haired Layabouts

So many of us will be looking forward to a trip for a trim when hairdressers and barbers open this week. We wish all the best to our local snippers. But we wonder whether these fellas would be rushing back, or whether lockdown would have suited them just perfectly!

Watch Long-Haired Layabouts (1964/4m) on the BFI player.

Bite Size Cinema: Puzzle 03

It’s time for another Bite Size Cinema Puzzle. Try the challenge at 108 pieces!
This one features someone from a film all about them that we showed at West Side Cinema. Who is it? What was the film? And when did we show it? We ‘think’ you’ll like it (‘just a little bit’).

Select this link to start the puzzle.

The Gift of Sound and Vision

“I will sit right down, waiting for the gift of sound and vision
And I will sing, waiting for the gift of sound and vision
Drifting into my solitude, over my head
Don’t you wonder sometimes
‘Bout sound and vision?”
David Bowie – Sound & Vision

We’re absolutely delighted to announce that we’ve been successful in our application to Creative Scotland’s National Lottery supported Cinema Equipment Fund, meaning that we’ll be installing a new projector and…..


a new Dolby sound system.

What does all this mean we hear you cry!

Well, on the projector front, we’ll be installing an 8,000 lumens laser lamp projector – giving a 60% brighter image, with a heat free and low maintenance lamp.

On the sound front, a little bit of tech overview – We currently have 2.0 Stereo sound. That’s 2 channels, left and right. An ever increasing amount of Blu Ray discs are producing film soundtracks with surround sound, which means all those extra channel effects are getting pushed onto our 2 channels and drowning out important things like dialogue. Due to the infrastructure of the Town Hall, it’s not practical for us to install full surround sound, so we will be installing what’s called a 3.1 (4 channel) system – a front left and right, a centre speaker and a sub woofer. This will allow us to tweak the surround sound to the left and right speakers and the dialogue to the centre speaker – to give a far superior and intelligible soundtrack.

We’d like to stress that the announcement of our success on Radio Orkney which was followed by a statement that cinemas in Scotland were able to open on 15th July are not connected. We are still some way off being able to open our doors and will need to follow advice from Orkney Islands Council as they own the venue. The current situation also means that the installation of the new equipment will probably be slightly delayed from the original August schedule, but we will proceed as soon as practical to do so.

We’d like to send a big thank you to the National Lottery and Creative Scotland for awarding us this grant, to our committee members that spent their own time on the application, and to our loyal audience, as you are the reason for our success. We’re really looking forward to when we can reopen our doors, welcome you back and continue the West Side journey.

You can see the full press release from Screen Scotland and all the other successful applicants HERE