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Screenplay: ‘Come to Shetland next year’

Curators Linda Ruth Williams and Mark Kermode: 'We’ve had a lot of social media attention in the lead up to and during the festival'. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

SHETLAND’s annual film festival Screenplay has drawn to an end for another year after ten days of films, workshops and visits from high profile guests such as actor Timothy Spall and animator Nick Park.

Husband and wife duo, Mark Kermode and Linda Ruth Williams, who have been curating the festival since it began 12 years ago, are delighted with how successful the week has been and said that this year there were more people coming to the festival from outwith Shetland.

“We’ve had a lot of social media attention in the lead up to and during the festival. A lot of people messaging on Twitter saying they want to try and go to Screenplay in Shetland next year and how great it looks,” Williams said.

This year has also seen the largest number of guests accompanying the films they have starred in and/or directed. Nick Park, Timothy Spall, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram have all given Question and Answer sessions after screenings of films they have appeared in, and for the first time in the history of the festival a Skype interview with actor Brian Cox.

Children from various schools across Shetland were privileged to meet the Wallace and Gromit clay figures as part of an educational talk from Nick Park on Friday morning, linking in to 2018 being The Year of Young People, where a range of films for families and young audiences have been on show throughout the festival.

Due in part to the contacts Williams and Kermode have made within the film industry, Screenplay gives kids and adults the opportunity to see the stars of the films in the flesh and gain some sense of their roles within the storylines of the films.

Kermode said that “every year we get guests because we send an invite saying ‘come to the Shetland film festival, it’s really great and if you don’t believe us ask these people’ and we give them a list of the people who have been here previous years.”

But Screenplay is not only about the celebrity guests. At the heart of the festival are the ‘Home Made’ screenings of films made by Shetland filmmakers.

Kermode feels that “the Home Made sections are always the highlight of the festival.

“You literally don’t know what you’re going to get. When we started Screenplay 12 years ago the Home Made films were the main event. The whole idea of the festival is its aimed at Shetlanders, for the community,” he said.

And what a whirlwind of a week it has been from writing comedy workshops, to 21-team-three-hour film quizzes, to screenings of classic films as well as outstanding, emerging, local creative talent, Screenplay has been a visionary delight for all ages, a plethora of diverse eclectic talent which has enthused locals and visitors alike to the joy of watching film in Britain’s most northerly film festival.

Alex Purbrick