CROMARTY Film Festival opens next week with a programme curated by Glasgow Short Film Festival beamed onto the side of the Black Isle town’s lighthouse while viewers warm themselves by roaring braziers.
The “small but mighty” festival screens films in unusual spaces, such as an ex slaughterhouse on the beach, an old buoy store and the home of local cinephile Ben Leyshon, who’ll host a free screening of Wim Wenders’s magnificent Salt Of The Earth in his living room.
Highlights include best-selling crime author Denise Mina discussing the enduring terror conjured by Robert Mitchum in Charles Laughton’s 1950s thriller The Night Of The Hunter, a talk by Oscar and BAFTA-nominated sound recordist Stuart Wilson and directors Zara Balfour and Vicki Lesley introducing some of their favourite films.
Broadcaster and National columnist Lesley Riddoch will introduce under-appreciated 1996 thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight and will host a showing of Faroe Islands, part of her trilogy of documentaries, as well as a bonus screening of Shutdown, which follows Greenpeace’s occupation of an oilrig in the Cromarty Firth earlier this year.
From its parking spot at Cromarty’s pier, mobile cinema Screen Machine will screen a selection of the year’s biggest blockbusters and critical hits, as well as Her Century, a look at the last hundred years of women’s lives in Scotland, curated by Emily Munro from the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive.
Ending the festival will be Won’t You Be My Neighbour?, Morgan Neville’s profile of gentle genius Fred Rogers, screened with a communal curry meal.
Organisers say the main aim of the festival is to bring disparate people together through their shared love of cinema. The seaside town is so passionate, a new purpose-built cinema is set to open in the new year.
Organiser Nicola White says tickets are selling fast. “The emphasis this year is on community and the shared experience of watching film together,” she says. “Discussions and opinion overflow the venues and fill the streets, cafes and pubs. There’s nowhere better to be on a dark winter weekend.”
December 6 to 8, venues around Cromarty, tickets in person during the festival from the Old Brewery Hub, Cromarty or book in advance via Eden Court, Inverness. Tel. 01463 234 234. www.eden-court.co.uk www.cromartyfilmfestival.org