“It’s been a joy to have worked with so many wonderful and inspiring groups and volunteers.”

The Highland Screen Network set out to increase access to screen and cinema in the region, particularly in communities that were underserved. The six-month project has now come to an end, with co-ordinator Sophie Crabb mapping and supporting a range of interesting and varied cinema clubs. Here’s a snapshot of cinema activity across the highlands, all programming independently and bringing a wealth of film to their communities, while sharing ideas with each other.

Between Sept 2022 to March 2023 there were 126community screenings across the Highland region with around 1,890audience members participating. 

Highlights included films and documentaries with guest speakers at the incredible Skye Community Cinemas; film programmes and live streams in a former church in Aultbea; sold-out nights in several village halls, and a world cinema and music in film season at Ullapool ferry terminal.

There are cinema clubs working in Applecross, Muir of Ord, Ullapool, Aultbea, Torridon, Kyle of Lochalsh, Skye/Portree, Bonar Bridge / Ardgay, Balintore, Nairn, Grantown, Kingussie, Halladale and Dornoch, with hopefully a further six starting in Winter 2023 and two ongoing cinema development projects in Tain and Invergordon.

Over the last 18 months, the Highland Screen Network Coordinator has been working with many of these groups, offering help to start-up, support with fundraising, programming, training and development – everything from tracking down films to helping with technical and equipment challenges in rural areas.

There have also been online get-togethers and an in-person gathering at Inverness Film Festival, with community cinemas, Eden Court and Cromarty Cinema to meet, discuss, share a love of film and see the festival preview.

It’s great to see some Touring Network members starting clubs too:

  • Applecross Cinema Club – a new cinema club formed in late 2022 with ambition to show films over the winter in Applecross Village Hall. We offered support to find out what equipment was needed along with some fundraising help, leading to a new projector, screen & popcorn maker! Their first screening of the Banshees of Inisherin had a brilliant response with further events and big plans for the autumn, including a potential Gaelic Film Festival and a little seen classic.
  • Muir Movies – within the Muir of Ord Hub, the 40-seat cinema had not been used in a while so were keen to restart their regular screening. With some funding from Regionals Screen Scotland. The Hub has shown six films including Lewis-shot The Road Dance and a successful Christmas Screening of The Polar Express, (sold out in two hours!). They operate an accessible ticketing policy too.
  • Skye Bridge Studios – the newly launched Films on Sunday (Autumn 2022) has brought a wealth of French and world cinema to Kyle of Lochalsh. Skye Bridge Studios hope to curate new programmes of work to share across the Highlands.
  • Seaboard Centre – a bit of help finding out kit that was needed and pilot funding from Regional Screen Scotland has meant films have been reintroduced to the wonderful hall in Balintore, brining cinema to the Seaboard villages.

HSN has been in contact with over 60 individuals across the region, plus funders and film industry across the UK, raising the profile of potential for film in the region and helping start to negotiate more affordable film licences for community cinemas.

There are many future developments planned between the emerging Highland Screen Network. This is only the beginning for community cinemas working together in the area.

Highland Screen Network has been made possible through support from The Touring Network, Regional Screen Scotland and Film Hub Scotland.

Film Hub Scotland Further info on extending film choice broadening audiences and enhancing opportunities for audiences please contact info@filmhubscotland.com

Regional Screen Scotland for enquiries on cinema development, cinema and film club operation please contact info@regionalscreenscotland.com

For any details on the Highland Screen Network project please email office@thetouringnetwork.com

The Touring Network (Highlands & Islands)
Supporting live performance across the Highlands & Islands as part of a central, celebrated and indispensable part of the cultural life of Scotland.
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