THE 12th annual Screenplay film festival got underway at Mareel on Saturday morning with a special family screening of Aardman animation’s prehistoric hit Early Man.
The first screening, however, was actually Best In Show at the Skeld Hall the night before as the festival spread its wings outside of Lerwick.
A widely mixed audience of lone adults and large families enjoyed Early Man, which came from next Saturday’s (1 September) Screenplay guest Nick Park, with a voice performance from another one of Screenplay 2018’s guests, actor Timothy Spall.
Park will be bringing his acclaimed film Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit to Mareel’s screen one on Saturday morning, and holding a Q+A immediately afterwards. As well as that, Mareel will be showing all three classic Wallace and Gromit shorts (The Wrong Trousers, A Grand Day Out and A Close Shave) for free throughout the course of the festival.
This year’s edition of the widely popular nine-day long film festival promises to be one of the biggest yet, with guest appearances from the afore-mentioned Park and Spall, as well as from actor/director Alice Lowe, who brings her darkly comic horror film Prevenge to Mareel, also on Saturday.
The festival features a wide range of films, documentaries and workshops with an emphasis on local films and ones with a northern inflection. Home Made and This Island Life, made by local amateur filmmakers, are sure to be one of the many highlights and are almost guaranteed to sell-out quickly.
The festival got off to a great start this weekend with the screening of a number of quirky Nordic movies such as The Swan and Tongue Cutters, but in particular with the much-anticipated and almost forgotten 1985 Shetland documentary The Work They Say Is Mine.
Directed by Rosie Gibson for Channel 4’s People to People series more than 30 years ago, the 50-minute film gave local women a national voice for the first time, and left a profound impact on those who watched it at the time, but equally on those who had the chance to see it for the first time on Saturday.
Gibson, who had been working as a postie in Shetland in the early 80s, had the idea to film when she realised that the mural at the former Anderson High School, showing Shetland work through the centuries, did not feature a single woman.
As testified in a series of terrific interviews with strong and determined women, almost all the work – the unpaid and underpaid work at least – in Shetland has been done by women.
There was an emotional reunion during the Q&A session that followed when Gibson was joined by Maureen Burke and Rosemary Inkster, who both played main parts in the film.
While Bob Fulton and his colleagues acted out of dignity and solidarity with the Chilean people when they refused to service Hawker Hunter engines used in the overthrow of the democratically elected Allende government, it only emerged during Sierra’s painstaking research of the story 40 years later that their boycott actually had a devastating impact on the Chilean air force.
The documentary will go on general release in the UK later in autumn but there will be a series of advance previews during September. More details at https://naepasaran.com
As always, husband and wife team of Mark Kermode and Linda Ruth Williams are curating the Screenplay festival, but it is festival director Kathy Hubbard who has been running the show this weekend.
She said the festival has been growing in stature. “Over the years the audiences has grown bigger and bigger, and the education programme has just mushroomed.
“There will be over 1,000 school children coming in during the week, so that is amazing.”
She said the festival has been successful in drawing some big names which was in large part thanks for film critic Kermode’s involvement – but also due to Shetland location.
“It really is marvellous to have Mark with his address book, it has to be said; but people are also finding the idea of coming to Shetland quite intriguing.”
Tickets are still available for most Screenplay films at https://www.shetlandarts.org/listings
Ryan Nicolson and Hans J Marter