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June 13, 2012

Cultural Olympiad goes walkabout

Running alongside the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, is the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.  The biggest ever cultural celebrations in the history of the Olympics – the website claims more than a quarter of the population have been involved in some way.  No surprise then that it’s reaching some far flung corners of the country. The community enterprise based in the Isle of Whithorn,  Machars Movies, have just hooked up with local film makers in Shetland as part of a UK wide film ‘relay’ race.


The Isle of Whithorn is getting set to welcome Scotland’s most northerly film makers and cinema enthusiasts to Scotland’s extreme south – Machars Movies, the award-winning community enterprise set up in 2009, has been selected to take part in ‘The Shetland Hansel of Film’ part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. 

The cinema at St Ninian’s Hall will be one of only 20 cinemas in the UK to which a group of Shetlanders will come in a country-wide relay – bringing films made in Shetland and screened with other films made locally in the south of Scotland. 

Rather like the Olympic Torch celebrations, the relay, organised by the Shetland Arts Trust, will comprise a number of ‘runners’ representing their areas, and carrying a precious cargo of films between each cinema destination. It will eventually reach Southampton, before the relay turns back to Shetland, arriving there in mid-August. 

On Sunday, June 17, the evening session starting at 7pm, there will be a live Skype video hookup with young fiddlers of Shetland’s ‘New Tradition’. We’ll be able to see and hear them play in Lerwick, and they will also be able to see us at the Isle, as our musicians entertain them in return! This will be followed by the Hansel of Film screening, a collection of fascinating short films that will be touring the UK over the coming weeks.”

Included in the screening will be two premières for the Isle and the Machars area: ‘When The Song Dies’ is a new short documentary made by London Film School graduates James Barrett and Jamie Chambers while they were here in 2011 making a feature film, to be released later this year. ‘The Isle of Whithorn Suite’ is a new piece of music composed by Stephen Byrne from Sorbie, and which has been set to film by Mike Marshall. 

The fun continues on the Monday – it will be Machars Movies’ turn to look after the next stage of the relay – to Kendal, in Cumbria. Steve Robinson from Whithorn is one of the cinema team, and he’s been organising the runners and riders:

Mike Marshall, one of the Machars Movies Team who’s been co-ordinating the event, said: “We’ve gone for an historic, traditional and maybe quirky transport strategy – a vintage Austin A35 1950’s saloon car, driven by hair stylist Lynda Pemberton from Whauphill will take the films from the Isle to the Kirroughtree Hotel in Newton Stewart. From there the cargo will be taken by Newton Stewart retired pilot Rob Bolton King on his electrically powered bicycle to New Galloway. We didn’t think Rob could manage all the way to Kendal, but Basil Lockwood-Goose from Sorbie, another member of the cinema, has very kindly come to our aid by offering to transport the films in his beautiful ruby 1935 Rolls Royce cabriolet. Basil has been telling me that he, along with a charming companion, will be dressed for the part. Who knows, when they get to Kendal for the screenings at the Old Brewery Arts Centre, they could well find themselves being screen-tested for another series of ‘Downton Abbey’!”