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Public can choose monthly film at Mareel

MAREEL is shaking up the way it shows films, with a new system that’s a cross between Netflix and Kickstarter, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.

For one film screening a month, members of the public can propose a title to be shown in Screen 1 in conjunction with an innovative venture called Ourscreen.  

It seems straightforward enough – go to the Ourscreen website and pick a film from the list of available features.

Like Netflix and its ilk, the selection is fluid, rotating films in and out, so if your choice is conspicuous by its absence, try again another month.

Films on the list cover a wide variety of genres and ages (some genres better represented than others) so there’s probably something to suit all tastes. Choices on offer at the time of writing range from foreign language masterpieces like Akiro Kurosawa’s Rashomon to Mel Brooks’ irreverent comedy Blazing Saddles.

Once you find your favourite film, you book it into a slot in Mareel; if it sells 50 tickets, the screening goes ahead.

Similar to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, after booking your ticket your money is only deducted if the screening hits its threshold and goes ahead. If you book a ticket for an unsuccessful screening, you won’t lose any money.

Shetland Arts themselves have started things off by pitting two opposing films against each other – Patrick Swayze’s 1987 romantic classic Dirty Dancing in one corner, and Clint Eastwood’s seminal Dirty Harry in the other. The first one to reach 50 ticket bookings via www.ourscreen.com/Mareel will be shown.

In the future it will be up to the film fans of Shetland to pick the movies and try to get them up to the 50 ticket mark (unfortunately, the reservation system is online only through the Ourscreen website). Once this is reached and the film is confirmed, remaining tickets will go on general sale at the box office.

Started in 2014, Ourscreen currently operates in over 21 cities across the UK, with a mission to “empower film fans and local communities to create and attend screenings at their local cinema”.

It seems like a win-win situation for both Mareel and the audience; the public gets the films they want to see, and Mareel gets bums-on-seats.

Shetland Arts marketing manager Lauren Doughton said: “We get lots of requests for specific pieces of content, so this is the perfect way for us to put control of the screens into the hands of the public and make Mareel a real community cinema.”