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Mobile cinema to reach even more rural communities in the Highlands and Islands

28 August 2013

A mobile cinema in the Highlands and Islands will continue to reach rural communities and allow even more audiences to enjoy a full cinematic experience.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is supporting Regional Screen Scotland (RSS), the development agency for cinema in Scotland, and operator of Screen Machine, with a grant of £45,000 for the next two years. The project is also supported through Creative Scotland’s annual funding of Regional Screen Scotland.

Screen Machine is Scotland’s mobile cinema service and with eighty seats and air conditioned, it brings the latest 2D and 3D films to remote and rural areas of Scotland.

This year the Screen Machine is marking 15 years on the road and to celebrate, it is expanding the selection of films as well as holding a series of one day film festivals, all under the banner of Screen Machine 15. New venues added include the Orkney Isles of Sanday, Hoy, Stronsay and Westray, in addition to the isles of Eigg, Run, Coll and Tiree.

The support from HIE also enables RSS to work in partnership with various organisations to offer advice and information such as film skills development. Both Thurso Cinema and Oban Phoenix Cinema received assistance from RSS for venue development and technical specifications. Campbeltown Picturehouse continues to receive assistance with its ambitious redevelopment plans. The services are vital to developing permanent cinema facilities in remote and fragile areas.

Rachael McCormack, HIE’s Director of Strengthening Communities, said: “The Screen Machine is an amazing mobile cinema as it allows people who live in remote areas, with no easy access to regular cinema, the chance to see a varied programme of films right on their own doorstep.

“HIE has supported the Screen Machine since the beginning and we are delighted to assist this project which also aims to deliver a substantial increase in the number of community cinemas – from monthly film clubs to regular cinema screenings in art centres and community venues. The Screen Machine has proved a huge success making a night to the movies a regular event in the communities where a trip to the cinema was previously a major undertaking.

The project is also able to provide support to community cinemas and film societies based in the Highlands and Islands.”

Chief Executive of RSS, Ron Inglis, said: “We are delighted that Highlands and Islands Enterprise continues to be a crucial supporter and funder of RSS and Screen Machine. The past twelve months have been exceptional for cinema in Scotland with Screen Machine achieving record attendances. New or redeveloped cinemas in Shetland, Thurso and Oban all benefited from support from HIE and opened to great success, demonstrating the popularity of high quality cinema in rural and remote areas.

Jennifer Armitage, Development Officer at Creative Scotland said: “Through the work of Regional Screen Scotland, audiences across Scotland have increasing access to cinema. The Screen Machine enables audiences in the Highlands and Islands to see the latest blockbusters, independent releases, and rare archive films, within their own communities.”

This year will also see a number of Scottish shorts preceding feature films in many locations, including the Scottish Documentary Institute’s In Search of Wallaby and Iain Gardner’s animated short The Tannery.

A strand of archive film screenings was introduced for 2013, including a chance for residents on the island of Sanday to watch a rare film shot by local school pupils in 1977.

The community cinema developments including operation of the mobile cinema is part of the extensive work HIE does to invest in and support increasingly resilient rural communities. HIE delivers a wide range of cultural, arts and heritage support and helps support businesses and social enterprises to grow and develop.

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