For some time there’s been a desire for a film festival in Orkney, but quite how that should look was quite a challenge. One idea was that rather than a packed 5 days of multiple screenings in one location, we could have a slow film festival. Not a festival of slow films, but rather showing films over a length of time, enabling travel the length and breadth of Orkney, allowing quality time to not only take in films but also connected tie in events that Orkney has to offer.

When West Side Cinema received some funding to pilot a film festival, we jumped at the chance to put ideas into fruition. We didn’t programme the festival, rather we gathered film related activity that was happening over a 2 week period in November, and promoted it under an umbrella website. We knew we were capitalising on the visit of the Screen Machine and that the regular local screens would probably increase their programming content to fit with the festival. Little did we realise quite how much activity we would gather.

In November 2017 Orkney held its inaugural film festival. Film Fortnight brought in approximately 2,300 people to over 90 film events across 13 locations in Orkney. An evaluation survey indicated that: 

  • 60% of organisers programmed extra events 
  • 50% of venues experienced an increase in audience numbers
  • People’s experience of Film Fortnight was 8.2 out of 10

The pilot was deemed a success, so much so that in 2018 Film Hub Scotland offered further support to West Side Cinema to project manage the film festival. FILM FOCUS FESTIVAL 2018 welcomed over 4,000 people, over 24 days, in 25 venues, across 16 islands and parishes. You can find out more about the highlights of 2018 HERE.

We’re back for more in 2019. We hope you, the audience, enjoy the festival wherever, and whenever, you can make it.

Mark Jenkins, Project Manager of the Film Focus Festival and Chair of West Side Cinema.