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Past and Future Films Feature at Mareel

by Alastair Hamilton -

Mareel, the Shetland arts centre that houses two excellent cinemas, a concert hall and much else, is casting an eye over past film classics and, at the same time, looking forward by encouraging tomorrow’s young film-makers.

The new Screen Classics strand promises to bring cinema classics back to the big screen where they belong. The first film to be featured, Funny Face, screened on Sunday 12 March. Starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire, it’s a charming musical set largely in Paris, directed by Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain, On the Town) and featuring songs by George and Ira Gershwin. Recently restored and made available digitally, it looked and sounded as good as it did on its release in 1957.

Jenny Leask, Shetland Arts Cinema Programmer, said: “There’s nothing better than watching a great film in a cinema rather than on a small screen at home. That sense of occasion, and of a communal experience, can’t be matched. For this strand, our definition of ‘classic’ is very wide, so expect gems from the 1980s and 90s as well as earlier favourites.”

There’s nothing better than watching a great film in a cinema

Mareel shows all the best new releases but already features older films in their programme on a regular basis with the Screen Focus seasons, which present four films linked by a common genre, director or actor. The next Screen Focus features four outstanding collaborations between director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro. That series began on Tuesday 14 March with Taxi Driver and the season also includes Raging Bull, The King of Comedy and Goodfellas (4 April).

Classics have a particular appeal to a Shetland audience, for the islands lacked a purpose-built filmhouse for 23 years after the closure, in 1989, of the North Star Cinema, which had been showing films to audiences of up to 700 since 1913. For many, the Screen Classics season will offer the chance to fill the gap in their viewing that opened up during the nineties and noughties.

But Mareel is looking ahead, too. Shetland Arts’ annual film festival, ScreenPlay, is once more on the lookout for local film making talent. Every year the best-attended screening at the festival is the Home Made event, where the audience gathers to watch short films made by their friends, relatives and neighbours.

the islands lacked a purpose-built filmhouse for 23 years

Festival Director Kathy Hubbard says that this is always her favourite event. “The atmosphere is fantastic and so supportive of the film makers – there’s a real sense of celebration.”

ScreenPlay is again inviting film makers of all ages and levels of experience to submit films of no longer than four minutes. “They can be serious, funny, live action or animated, music videos or just a good joke, well told. The important thing is to pick up your camera or your mobile phone and have a go.” To be eligible, film makers must be a Shetlander by birth or residency. This includes those currently in higher education.

ScreenPlay runs from 25 August to 3 September and the deadline for submissions is Friday 28 July. More experienced film makers who would like to submit something longer than four minutes are invited to contact Kathy to discuss their project as soon as possible.

The atmosphere is fantastic

Posted in: Creative Scene

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