KEY figures from the worlds of television and film will gather in Inverness next year when the Highland Capital becomes the first city to host the Celtic Media Festival for a third time.
Inverness was revealed as 2015 venue at the end of the 2014 Festival held in St Ives in Cornwall, with four days of talks, workshops and screenings, as well as the annual awards ceremony celebrating the best in film and television from the Celtic nations and regions.
The festival previously visited Inverness in 1987 and 1991, but as Festival producer Catriona Logan pointed out, much has changed in Celtic broadcasting over the last 20 years, not least the creation of Gaelic-language television channels TG4 in Ireland and BBC Alba in Scotland.
"There is a tremendous amount of talent in the Celtic regions and nations," Logan said.
"If you look at what happened at the awards this year, Welsh series Hinterland was up against Doctor Who for Best Drama and won — that’s a Welsh-language drama up against one of the biggest programmes in the world."
The Aberystwyth-set police drama, known as Y Gwyll in Welsh, now looks set to become an international hit after being bought by Danish television — perhaps fittingly, as Logan believes the success of Scandinavian series such as The Killing and The Bridge is helping open up an audience for Celtic language drama.
"This year we had Bo Ehrhardt, the producer of The Bridge, over to the festival and last year we had the director of The Killing," Logan said.
"What they are doing is very similar to what we are doing. There’s nothing we Celts do better than this really dark, atmospheric programming as well as factual. Bo was talking about cross country co-operation. In his case that’s between Sweden and Denmark, but we’re interested in doing the same between Scotland and Ireland."
The awards are just part of the three day media industry convention, which also attracts considerable interest from outside the Celtic nations.
"Outside all that there are public and fringe events," Logan said.
"We’ll do screenings and talks all free to the public as well, so hopefully we’ll create a really good buzz around the city.
"We’ll also showcase Inverness. It’s really important to us to showcase places as filming locations."
Guests at this year’s festival, alongside Ehrhardt, included Tom Bidwell, writer and executive producer of E4’s hit comedy My Mad Fat Diary, and screenwriter Jed Mercurio, the man behind recent acclaimed BBC2 series Line of Duty.
Logan expects similarly high quality guests in Inverness in 2015.
"It’s small enough to meet the people you want to meet and big enough to attract the people you want to meet," she said.
"We tend not let it go over the 450/500 mark for the media part of the festival because people want to be able to sit in the bar and turn round and meet the programme commissioner from BBC Scotland or RTE Ireland. The media exposure obviously goes way higher and all the public events will hopefully be well attended by the people of Inverness."
Previous high profile speakers include actors Tilda Swinton, Rhys Ifans and Peter Mullan, film maker Ken Loach, writer Jimmy McGovern, Doctor Who and Torchwood producer and writer Russell T. Davies.
Festival chairman Pádhraic Ó Ciardha said the event delighted to be returning to the Highlands.
"Our delegates come from far and near in the Celtic nations and regions and their output spans across the full spectrum of film, TV, radio as well as all forms of digital storytelling," he added.
"Inbhir Nis/Inverness is an ideal location for such a gathering and we have very happy memories of our previous two festivals there."
Councillor Hamish Fraser, who chairperson Highland Council’s Gaelic Implementation Group called the Celtic Media Festival a hugely important event in the Gaelic calendar.
"The growth of Gaelic within the media has expanded significantly over the last few years and the Festival helps to increase the profile of Gaelic and creates confidence in the use of the language, within all forms of media in new and innovative ways," he said.
"The Celtic Media Festival taking place in Inverness will support the work of the Council’s Gaelic Language Plan and I am therefore very much looking forward to being part of, and assisting the Festival, when it comes to Inverness next year."
Though next year’s programme has still to be formulated, for an idea of what to expect in Inverness next year check the programme and videos from this year’s event at the festival website www.celticmediafestival.co.uk