The tenth edition of the Screenplay film festival drew to a close on Sunday, with the event attracting bigger audiences than ever before. Over the ten days of the festival, 89 screenings, workshops and events took place, and ticket sales were more than 17% up on last year’s festival. More than twenty guests, including filmmakers Kim Longinotto, Amma Asante, Iain Softley and Sarah Curtis, and musicians Richard Hawley and Jason Singh, took part in post-screening Q&As, allowing audiences to gain new insights into their work. Hawley also played a brilliant show to a rapt crowd in the Mareel auditorium, and sound artist Singh’s immersive live score for John Grierson’s 1929 documentary Drifters, about herring trawlermen working in the North Sea, was enthusiastically received by audiences in Baltasound and Lerwick. Local talent was well represented, with screenings of JJ Jamieson’s documentary Havera: The Story of an Island, and his film of Shetland opera Hirda, alongside the usual hugely enjoyable Home Made shorts programmes, with Shetland ForWirds sponsoring a new prize for films made in Shetland dialect. Families were well catered for, with films from Norway, Germany, India, France and Belgium, and kids big and small enjoyed free screenings of classic TV show Noggin the Nog.
Film critic Mark Kermode, who co-curates the festival with Linda Ruth Williams and Kathy Hubbard, described this year’s edition as ‘triumphant’, and Kathy Hubbard said: ‘I was very pleased with the audience reaction to the festival this year. We had well over 4000 attending screenings and events not just at Mareel but in community halls and care homes as well. The ‘Look North’ strand of Scandinavian films was particularly well received and we had a good response to the six education screenings. The Home Made evening was a sell-out as usual, and delighted the audience with films made by Shetlanders from 8 years to 58 years old. I was also delighted to welcome a significant number of older members of the community to films like Havera, Ni Liv, Drifters and Rams – some of them told me that this was their first visit to Mareel, and I felt it was a privilege to have them there.’