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Reviews / Screenplay: a superb array of local short films

Some of Shetland's amateur film makers introducing their films ahead of the Home Made screening on Friday evening. Photo: Shetland News

SCREENPLAY curator Mark Kermode said on Friday that the Home Made sections were “always the highlight of the festival”, and that proved to be the case once again later the same day, as a varied crowd sold out Mareel’s Screen 1 to enjoy festival’s annual signature showcase of the best short films made entirely by local amateur filmmakers.

Curators Kathy Hubbard, Linda Ruth Williams and Mark Kermode gathered the filmmakers on stage before the show began to introduce them to the crowd and to allow them to briefly explain their films in their own words.

Home Made continues to be one of the Shetland film festival’s highlights, and this year was no exception with a superb array of films on display including poetry from Dante re-imagined into Shetland dialect, clay and stop-motion pieces, documentaries, music videos, comedy skits and three superb stories from local man Andrew Nicolson, shot by Jasmin Grant.

Highlights included Stephen Mercer’s Shetland’s Winter, which demonstrated the beauty of Shetland through the seasons and changing weather, and Home by Amber Grieve, a Shetland dialect film/poem, which has already received a special mention at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

The 23 films exhibited just how much artistic talent there is in Shetland as no two films were similar, giving the opportunity to enjoy something different at least every four minutes.

At the end of a thoroughly enjoyable screening the crowd were asked to pick their favourite short films out of the wide spectrum, and after a brief deliberation (with a showing of the work that had been created in the recent Claymation Creations workshops) the winners of the overall prizes as well as the Shetland ForWirds dialect prizes were announced.

In the Shetland dialect category, Stuart Hannay’s Guido, an interpretation of a poem by Dante into Shetland dialect, took the top prize with Raaga by Roseanne Watt a close second.

The overall prize category was much tougher to call, with such a vast array of different and impressive films to choose from. After the audience vote was collated, Mark Kermode announced that Morag Haswell’s Will, a short stop-motion tale about a plasticine figure who discovers he may not be in control of his own actions, took third place.

In second was Raaga once again, part-poem part-film which featured some evocative and startling imagery to match the poem playing out over the top.

Taking the top prize on the night was Ian Priest’s The Macguffin, a hilarious comedy skit which gleefully sent up Pulp Fiction, plot triggers and student films in general.

The Macguffin was a worthy winner on the night but the prizes could have gone to almost any of the films, such was the strength of the talent on show.

As the showing drew to a close Mark Kermode revealed that Screenplay guest and Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park had been in the audience during the entire screening and had enjoyed himself thoroughly, further encouragement to local filmmakers to persevere with their great work.

Ryan Nicolson