Shetland Arts’ 13th annual film festival, Screenplay, is over for another year and what a festival it has been!
Curated by Jenny Leask, Mark Kermode and Linda Ruth Williams Screenplay showcased cinema from Shetland and across the world. A packed programme of films and events both in Mareel and in halls across the isles Screenplay featured special guests Sanjeev Bhaskar, Jeanie Finlay and Harry Wootliff. During the ten day festival over 3000 tickets were sold to more than 30 films, plus nearly 1000 pupils from 18 schools attending 16 education film screenings in Mareel and the Mid Yell Hall and over 250 pupils taking part in Screenplay workshops.
Opening the festival was sell out feature film Yesterday followed by a Q&A session with actor and writer Sanjeev Bhaskar, best known for hit BBC series Goodness Gracious Me. This year a new Look South strand featured four films from Australia and New Zealand, the New Zealand film Bludgeon being teamed with a combat demonstration in the Mareel carpark before the film from Vikingr Hjaltlandi, Shetland’s own Full Contact Medieval Combat group.
New to the festival this year was Women’s Work, a strand of films directed by women. Screenplay has attracted praise for its gender balance with half of the feature films in this year’s programme fully or co-directed by women. Two extremely talented female filmmakers attended the festival. Jeanie Finlay, who has been directing thoughtful and intimate documentaries since 2007, attended with Seahorse and Game of Thrones: The Last Watch. Jeanie also introduced her wonderful film Sound it Out at The Bop Shop in Lerwick. Harry Wootliff arrived for the festival’s final day with her nuanced and moving debut feature film Only You, a romantic drama set in Glasgow and Mark Kermode delivered an interesting and lively interview with Harry by Skype in the following Q&A session.
The ever popular Home Made strand of local short films was back and continues to be managed by Kathy Hubbard. This year saw a bonus screening of Shetland actress Marnie Baxter’s directorial debut, Bad Mother and a look back to earlier filmmaking times with Made At Home, a selection of work from the Shetland Film Archive, programmed by Maya Darrell Hewins.
As well as the ever popular Screenplay Quiz, this year also saw the introduction of a new Screenplay Audience Award. The top five films by popular vote were 1. Sound It Out 2. Children of the Snow Land 3. Capernaum 4. On Her Shoulders 5. Shorts for Wee Ones. Shetland Arts is pleased to report that over three quarters of the films in the programme scored an average of at least four out of five with audiences.
Screenplay guest Sanjeev Bhaskar said “it was a total delight to attend the festival and I wish I’d been there longer to enjoy the fantastic variety Shetland Arts had on offer.”
Screenplay curator and Shetland Arts Film Programme Manager Jenny Leask said
“It’s been an exhilarating ten days, and hugely rewarding to see such positive reactions to the films in the programme. Our guests were terrific, and thoroughly enjoyed their time in Shetland – it means so much to have actors, writers and filmmakers come to the festival to talk about their work. My thanks go to my co-curators Mark Kermode and Linda Ruth Williams, whose continued involvement with the festival is so valued, to Shetland Arts staff and our team of enthusiastic Screenplay volunteers, for making sure everything ran so smoothly, and to our audiences, for embracing Screenplay and taking a chance on something a little different!”