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Shetland Arts is pleased to announce that Mareel will be the opening venue for the September tour by multi-talented Welsh musician, composer, & filmmaker Gruff Rhys (of Super Furry Animals, Neon Neon, & solo fame). Taking advantage of the cinema and music venue under one roof, Gruff's new film American Interior will be screened with an accompanying Q&A from the man himself, followed by a live performance in Mareel’s Main Auditorium. Both events will take place on Thursday 4 September as part of Screenplay 2014, Shetland Arts annual film festival.

Through nine albums with Super Furry Animals, two with Neon Neon and handful of solo LPs, Gruff Rhys has distinctively documented the lives of others. Each time, those stories have been set to pop music heavily seeped in timeless melody and wide-eyed wonder.

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Gruff Rhys

American Interior may well be Gruff’s most fully realised character study yet. A warm and moving study of a true outsider life, it tells a story so far-fetched, it could only ever be true. The album, along with the complimentary film, follows the path set by John Evans, a North Walian who set off on a quest to find the Madogwys - a legendary tribe of light skinned, Welsh speaking native Americans. An untrained cartographer, the map Evans made of his journey went beyond the known borders of the United States and ended up becoming the guide for Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery Expedition (1804 – 1806).

Gruff’s own exploration of Evans’ life took him from a Native American sagebrush ceremony in an arts centre in Canton,Cardiff to the heart of Mandan country in North Dakota. Along the way, he undertook an ‘investigative concert tour’ that wound its way from Yale University all the way to Memphis; a tour that would help cement his reputation as a social historian and master storyteller. As a direct result of that nine-date tour and extensive research undertaken on the way, Gruff returned home as arguably the world’s leading authority on Evans’ incredible life.

Screenplay Curator, Kathy Hubbard, described how she came to book Gruff for the festival: “In February 2011 I went to see Gruff doing a solo gig at Oran Mor – he was so good, and the audience adored him. I had some Shetland Arts headed notepaper with me as I was down there to work, so I wrote a note to Gruff telling him how we were currently building Mareel and inviting him to play there. I then stuck this in an envelope and gave it to the young man who was minding the concessions stall and told him very solemnly that this was an important document that he must place directly into Gruff’s hands!”

She continued: “No sooner had I returned to my hotel than Gruff had e-mailed saying that he would love to come to Shetland and giving me his agent’s contact details. Opening Mareel took longer than we thought, but Gruff performing here has never been far from my mind. When he brought out his second film, American Interior, along with a new album, Screenplay was the obvious destination... I made contact again, and enticed him with the fact that ours is probably the only dressing room in Britain where you could fish for mackerel outside the window. (I haven’t told him that the window doesn’t open yet. Let’s get him here first!)”

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Gruff Rhys

Tickets for Gruff’s live concert at Mareel will go on sale this Friday (6 June) via Shetland Box Office at Mareel and/or Islesburgh, over the phone on 01595 745 555, or online at shetlandboxoffice.org and/or mareel.org

Tickets for the cinema screening of American Interior + Q&A will go on sale later this month after the special Screenplay preview screening of Doc of the Dead on Tuesday 24 June, where an exclusive Screenplay 2014 announcement will be made.

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