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XpoNorth announces pop-up cinema in city centre church

By Margaret Chrystall

THE XpoNorth film showcase will take place at a special pop-up cinema in the Old High St Stephen’s Church in Inverness city centre on Wednesday and Thursday, July 3 and 4.

A selection of international films competed for the chance to be screened.

And among the successful titles is Discover Scotland: North Coast 500 by Skye-based Sean Grieve who will take part in a screening and Q&A on July 4.

The full film programme – from 7pm each night – is:

Wednesday, July 3

The Racer (director, Alex Harron) documentary (PG) – 13 minutes

Jodie lives and breathes motorcycling. But the road to reaching the top is paved with difficulties. An impossible dream, if it wasn't for her dad's unwavering support.


Slingshot (director Robin Haig), drama (PG) – 16 minutes

Slingshot is the spirited tale of overlooked Highland woman Kath who works in the ticket booth of a Scottish castle. On the day of her local village’s Pict vs Viking battle re-enactment she longs to join in but is thwarted by her annoying boss Gordon. Worse still, she has another run in with teenage daughter Emily. Kath’s world unexpectedly changes when enigmatic tour guide Flora gifts her a mysterious hagstone. Kath finds herself reliving an ancient legend which inspires the courage in her to answer the battle cry and finally become a warrior queen.

Biyik Zherde (In The Green Land).
Biyik Zherde (In The Green Land).

Biyik Zherde (In The Green Land) (director Suiunbek Gulzhigit Uulu) documentary (PG) – 13 minutes

The life of the ancient Kyrgyz people, their livestock farming and life conditions deeply connects with the great mountains. The shepherd and his family living in the mountains tend and rear sheep, despite the fact it is at an altitude of 2,000 metres above sea level. Livestock breeding for them is their happiness, sadness, life challenge and their future.

Simply Runderful.
Simply Runderful.

Simply Runderful (director Marcin Walczak) documentary (12) – 28 minutes

Lucja and Marina are two young females who attempt to run 500 km in five days in a self-organised challenge. While pushing their bodies to the limits they constantly fight with pain, balancing between endurance and reaching their breaking point. Neither of them had ever run such a long distance before. Organisation and planning were crucial to make it successful, but not everything goes as planned. Would they manage to accomplish their challenge?

Everything Is Fine (director Avi Sidi) drama (12) – 14 minutes

Noam is a soldier discharged from a combat unit in the Israel Defence Forces. On his way to celebrate his birthday, a series of memories surface in his head and, as a result, bring his trauma to the centre of Tel Aviv.

Moon Drops (director Yoram Ever Hadani) fantasy romance (PG) –16 minutes

Moon Drops is a magical fairy tale with no dialogue. A factory worker tired of his dead-end job assembles an enigmatic machine that produces liquid drops from moonlight. The bottled drops are a hard sell at the town market. But everything changes when their surprising effect is revealed.

Icare (director Nicolas Boucart), drama (PG) – 27 minutes

On a tiny island encircled by steep cliffs, a unique house stands alone facing the sea. Obsessed by the dream that one day man may be able to fly just like a bird, an inventor experiments with machines on this abandoned land. For this man, only a pure, light and naive soul is capable of such a feat. Recruited from the continent, 11-year-old Joseph seems to be the perfect candidate.

A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm (director Martin Laird), animation (PG) – 5 minutes

Campaigning for women to have the right to vote took place from the latter half of the 19th-century up to the start of the First World War. Orcadian suffragists were part of that activism. Researched and scripted by Fiona Grahame, the hand-painted animation by Martin Laird references the world of 20th-century art. The Orcadian Woman's Suffrage Society had connections to the artist Stanley Cursiter, who designed their banner. The narration by Orcadian Kim Foden is upbeat and enthusiastic. The original score by James Watson sets the tempo for the animation.

Samvel (director Evgeniy Bakirov), documentary (12) – 6 minutes

A short documentary film about Samvel Galstyan – a taxi driver from Erevan. The film puts his profession in the background focusing on Samvel's hobby. He has been an artist since his childhood.

Just Agree Then (director Duncan Cowles & Ross Hogg), comedy (12) – 9 minutes

Contrasting artistic visions, misplaced confidence and blatant ignorance collide on the backdrop of an increasingly fragile and divided world. In August 2018, seven months before the UK is due to leave the EU, two stubborn Scottish filmmakers struggle to make a short film together in the Austrian Alps. Can they find common ground, or will they have to go their separate ways?

Metropolitan Spaghetti (director Alex Cormack), entertainment (PG) – 8 minutes

Metropolitan Spaghetti is the tale of a lonesome cowboy wandering the urban streets of a modern city. He faces constant rejection and humiliation as he desperately strives to make it to an unexpected destination.

Tell Me A Story (director Andy M Wells), drama (PG) – 5 minutes

Tell Me A Story is a film about a young couple’s relationship hitting a barrier. The couple, Lilly and Adam, are sitting in their favourite place, the Scottish landscape. Lilly wants to leave, to move away, to go somewhere else. Adam doesn't want her to leave him, but he knows that she has to.

Birthday Party (director Natalia Bereg), drama (15) – 3 minutes

Is there life after forty years old? What does a girl come through when she becomes a woman? One wrong word that she is not yet ready to hear can hurt her and make her 10 years older…

Shab e Tavalod (Birthday Night), (director Omid Shams), drama (PG) – 23 minutes

Ahmad and Ali are friends and work partners. On their birthday night they are on their way from a job outside the city to Ahmad's house where their wives are waiting for them. But on the road outside the city, an accident is waiting for them that causes them to learn more about each other…

Thursday, July 4:

Discover Scotland: North Coast 500 (director Sean Grieve), documentary (U) – 90 minutes

This film takes audiences on an adventure – a 516-mile round trip of Scotland's north Highlands to a soundtrack by Mànran (2012 London Olympics), and Kathleen MacInnes (Robin Hood). Presented by actor Malcolm Jamieson (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Howard’s Way) and filmed in 4K resolution, the documentary explores the culture, history, and opportunity for adventure around the 516 miles of Scotland’s north coast.

The North Coast 500 has been hailed by many as one of the world’s essential road trips. While the driving experience is almost unparalleled, the 516-mile round trip through the Highlands is also home to breathtaking scenery, vibrant people, and a rich history. After seeing that most of the media coverage of the route was from first-time experiences, Sean Grieve decided to use his first year out of university to produce Discover Scotland: North Coast 500.

“I wanted to show an honest representation of the Highlands with an authentic soundtrack that all points towards a contemporary, thriving Scotland that cherishes its culture and heritage,” he said.

The Skye filmmaker’s perspective on the North Coast 500 culminates in his 90-minute documentary, featuring a blend of visits to listed historical locations, and adventures with locals off the beaten track. There were numerous partnerships with local businesses in the film’s making. Sean hopes that his project will transport audiences to the remote regions and leave them with a deeper appreciation of the route that goes beyond its striking beauty.

Sean grew up on Skye and graduated last year with a BA (Hons) degree in filmmaking from Screen Academy Scotland. After releasing several short drama films in Edinburgh and New York, Sean self-financed Discover Scotland: North Coast 500 as a means to learn more about the culture and history of the Scottish Highlands – and to take audiences on the same journey. He is currently on his way towards directing feature films in Scotland, drawing from the country’s culture, history, and folklore.

Iain Hamilton, head of creative industries at Highlands and Islands Enterprise said: “We’re delighted with the quality and range of the films selected to be screened as part of this year’s XpoNorth.

“The process again attracted a significant volume of entries and highlights the importance of XpoNorth as a platform for showcasing exciting, high-quality films from across the Highlands and Islands and the broader global marketplace.

“This aspect is an incredibly important element of the event and we’re pleased to be presenting a programme of this quality to the buyers and wider audiences attending this year’s conference.”

For full XpoNorth details: www.xponorth.co.uk

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