Gags and reels galore at Eastgate film festival

Eastgate's Scottish film festival..The Ladykillers .
Eastgate's Scottish film festival..The Ladykillers .

Peebles’ Eastgate Theatre is organising its first film festival next month, to celebrate the legacy of Scots in cinema.

Over the weekend of February 15, 16 and 17, the theatre is showing a programme of films highlighting some of Scotland’s finest cinematic talents, both in front of and behind the camera, and their place in movie history.

“Starting with the very earliest Scots to wield cameras, and running all the way up to the present day, via the likes of Alexander Mackendrick and Bill Forsyth, this weekend celebrates the hilarious, the compelling, the heartbreaking and the life-affirming contributions Scots have made to the silver screen,” a theatre spokesperson writes.

The festival begins with a talk, Early Filmmaking in Focus, on Friday, February 15 at 7.30pm. “In the early years of the 20th century, as a filmmaking boom swept the globe, the pioneers of Scottish film picked up their cameras and started recording, capturing the daily life of a world now lost,” explains the spokesperson.

“This talk, presented by the Scottish Screen Archive, tells the story of this oft-overlooked part of the history of Scottish cinema, and offers a chance to see incredible footage of life in the Borders and around the country from over a hundred years ago climaxing with a screening of a film by one of Scottish cinema’s early masters: John Grierson’s Night Mail.”

The weekend continues on Saturday with showings of the 1950s Ealing comedy The Ladykillers, directed by Alexander Mackendrick, at 2pm, and then at 7.30pm the 1983 Scottish masterpiece Local Hero, directed by Bill Forsyth.

“The film has endured, with its great cast (including Fulton Mackay, Burt Lancaster and Peter Capaldi), unforgettable locations and gorgeous soundtrack making it one of the best loved films of all time, not just in Scotland, but around the world,” the festival publicist writes.

On a related theme and showing earlier on Saturday at 5pm is You’ve Been Trumped: a tale of another American coming over to the Highlands to buy up land, but with rather different consequences.

Filmmaker Anthony Baxter set out to investigate Donald Trump’s purchasing of one of Scotland’s last natural wildernesses against the wishes of the local population to create a hotel and golf course complex, but found his way blocked at every turn by the police, the local authorities and Trump’s men. This compelling documentary presents a powerful example of the dignity of rural Scottish communities in the face of big business.”

On Sunday there will be a screening at 2.30pm of Brave, Pixar’s fairytale set in the Highlands, and then at 7.30pm The Impossible, starring Ewan McGregor.

In between at 5pm is a compilation called Tartan Shorts: “Today, Scottish cinema is in rude health, producing some of the finest actors and directors in the world,” a spokesperson said. “The evening offers a rare chance to see some of the shorts that started significant careers, including the beautiful Gasman by Lynne Ramsey (director of We Need To Talk About Kevin), the Glaswegian realism of Peter Mullan’s Fridge, and Peter Capaldi’s hilarious Oscar winner Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Tickets cost £7/£5 or £6/£4, and you can see any three films for £16/£12. Contact 01721 725777, or go to www.eastgatearts.com