Screenplay event kicks off with film bonanza for Fair Islanders

Shetland Arts’ third film festival, Screenplay 09, got off to a flying start on Fair Isle at the weekend with enthusiastic audiences enjoying a varied programme of films.

The festival moves on to Whalsay, Aith, Yell and Unst during the week, including a very special screening at Bobby’s Bus Shelter in Baltasound at 2pm on Thursday.

Young film-makers group Maddrim Media has invited film critic and festival curator Mark Kermode (and his mum) to be guests of honour at the smallest screening in Shetland this week, complete with tickets, usherettes, popcorn and ice-cream. Maddrim will be showing Mark some of the films they have made especially for the festival.

Bobby’s Bus Shelter is something of a Shetland institution. Some 10 years ago a wicker sofa and table appeared in the shelter, with no-one claiming responsibility. Soon afterwards a small television was added, followed by a “hot snacks” counter; since then the tiny bus shelter has had curtains, a computer, hamsters, fairy lights, paintings, reading materials and much more installed, all secretly, and much to the delight of anyone who has to wait for the school bus there on a wet morning.

Maddrim Media member Aidan Nicol said: “Mark wanted to see the most northerly point in the British Isles, so we thought it would be excellent if he could catch a film or two whilst he was there.”

Later in the week at Lerwick’s Garrison Theatre Mark and his partner Linda Ruth Williams, herself an acclaimed critic, will be joined by one of Britain’s greatest living film-makers, Terence Davies, who will be talking about his work. Three of his films will be screened at the festival, including the critics’ favourite, Of Time and the City.

This is the third year that Mark and Linda will have acted as curators of Screenplay. “We love coming to this festival,” he said. “There’s something magic about going to the edge of Britain, and getting to see a programme of films that would grace the screens of cinemas in much larger places. There are also some excellent films being made by Shetlanders young and old, which are given a platform during the event.”

Young film-makers will also be given a boost from crime writer Ann Cleeves who will be visiting Screenplay and Wordplay, the annual book festival this year. She is sponsoring a competition for film-makers aged between 15 and 25 to produce a five-minute film to help her promote her forthcoming book Blue Lightning, with a £500 prize for the winner.

The competition will be launched on Friday evening at the “Small Screen, Big Ideas” event in which Ann will be discussing adapting work for television with screenwriter Mark Greig (The Bill, Life on Mars, Taggart), producer Foz Allan and the BBC’s head of drama for the UK, Anne Mensah.

Screenplay runs until Sunday, 6th September, and information on this as well as the film-making competition can be obtained from Shetland Arts on (01595) 743843 or by visiting


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