From the 26 - 29 June, some of the finest shorts to have played at the Inverness Film Festival over recent years will be streaming for free on the Eden Court website, along with newly recorded introductions from the filmmakers and fully captioned by Matchbox Cinesub. We're delighted to have funded this project, and spoke to Neil Hepburn, Marketing Officer for Film at Eden Court, about the films in the season, and his lockdown film recommendations.
How have the Eden Court cinema team adapted to the current crisis, and engaged with audiences online?
The team are predominantly furloughed now and I think everyone is just desperate to get back to what Eden Court Cinema does so well: high quality presentation of a brilliant film programme. Since closing the building, we’ve partnered with MUBI and Curzon Home Cinema to give our audiences offers on subscriptions and discounted rental costs. These partnerships happened with a lot of indie cinemas in Scotland, which felt like a really positive thing. It’s easy to see on demand services as being nothing but a threat to independent cinemas, but I think that recently it has been a very supportive, mutually beneficial relationship. We ran a weekly blog with Paul MacDonald-Taylor (Eden Court’s Head of Film + Visual Art), recommending films available on demand, across all quality streaming services. Many of Paul’s recommendations were rooted in stories about Eden Court – memories of things we had screened or thoughts on films we would have programmed, had we not been in lockdown. I hope this provided a continuous source for Eden Court audiences to stay engaged with the cinema.
Could you tell us a little bit about the IFF Online project – what made you decide to screen shorts?
The Inverness Film Festival has a history of supporting and championing filmmakers in Scotland. We wanted to offer something that was specific to Eden Court and wouldn’t be available anywhere else. When we pitched the project, we had no idea how long we would be shut and so it was an opportunity to put some curated content out to our existing cinema audience, whilst reaching out to new audiences that might not be so familiar with the venue or the Inverness Film Festival. Some of the films are already available to view for free online, some will only be available for the weekend through the Eden Court website. Every film will be accompanied by new introductions, shot by the filmmakers in lockdown over the last few weeks. And all the content will be available to view with captions, thanks to Matchbox Cinesub. So the idea was to give all these films a special focus on a platform together under the Inverness Film Festival banner.
How did you choose the shorts, was there a selection criteria?
‘Films made in Scotland that had screened at the festival’ was the only criteria we worked with. Beyond that, we wanted to offer lots of different perspectives, through a wide range of voices, places and events around the country. We feature several filmmakers whose work we have screened throughout their careers as well as some relatively new talent. Across eleven films, a lot of ground gets covered.
Are there any of the films in particular that you would recommend?
Of all the films, I’d say 1745 has the most contemporary relevance. With mainstream media now openly debating our racist and colonial history, this film acknowledges Scotland’s often overlooked role in the slave trade. It’s a really stark, almost minimal thriller with a great deal of substance. We selected the film before George Floyd was killed and the Black Lives Matter movement went global but it feels like an important part of the conversation that’s going on now in Scotland, even though it’s set 275 years ago.
Any other recommendations for lockdown watching?
I’ve watched some great stuff on MUBI recently, including Ida Lupino’s menacing serial killer road movie The Hitchhiker, epic 90’s doc Hoop Dreams and Pablo Larrain’s Ema, my gateway into reggaeton - great for a lockdown workout. I’m also really looking forward to the Hippodrome’s online event screening of the 1920 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, accompanied by the great Neil Brand, on Sat 4 July.