An annual celebration of female filmmakers begins today on an island in the Hebrides with the aim of opening up more opportunities for women in film.
The Change Film Festival takes place in Tiree in the Inner Hebrides and was founded with a mission to support women in the screen industries. This year marks the fourth edition of the event.
From today to Friday, a development lab will bring together experienced practitioners and industry experts who will discuss new ways to promote and inspire women in the film industry.
And from Friday to Sunday, the festival will open its doors to the public with a packed program of new and classic films, all directed by women.
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Speaking to The National, festival director and Tiree resident Jen Skinner said: ‘I’ve worked in film exhibition for about 20 years and the festival really grew out of some conversations I had. had with colleagues a few years ago when I was at an industry event.
“It was around the time the MeToo movement started getting a lot of attention and I just thought we could do something. I had worked at what was then the National Media Museum and I knew that there were a lot of case studies of people promoting female directors.
“A lot of people said they would come and they were all looking forward to seeing Tiree because of the location, so that’s the idea that the development lab came from. We’ll have filmmakers coming, as well than people involved in distribution and production.
“Having all these women in one room allows us to think about how we can support each other.”
Although Skinner believes improvements have been made and more opportunities are available for women in the industry, she says there is still work to be done.
She added: “Having all these women in one room allows us to think about how we can support each other. Everyone’s in a rush right now and we’ll be looking at the impact of the pandemic in terms of funding for women in film. It’s all well and good to have this dream scenario where there are opportunities for everyone, but we also need to make sure it’s all practical.
Part of the event will be a celebration of the connections between Finnish and Hebridean cultures.
One of the films screened is Tove, the story of the woman who created the Moomins, a beloved series of books and comics in Finland. The film’s screenwriter, Eeva Putro, will also host a film-writing masterclass.
Skinner said: “We want it to be a party and we can see Finland and more of our European colleagues on screen. There will also be brilliant 16mm films from the Finnish archives.
“I would also say that we have a lot of sea-related content because it’s amazing to get out of the cinema and be right next to the beach.”
Although there is no specific theme underlying each film shown at the festival, Skinner says they have a lot of documentaries.
This includes Journey To The Isles: Marjory Kennedy-Fraser – a series of silent films shot by a legendary Hebridean song collector which will be accompanied by a live musical performance. Another Scottish film viewers can see is Lizzie MacKenzie’s award-winning documentary The Hermit of Treig, which the filmmaker herself will present.
The Scottish ties don’t stop there as the development lab will also house Gaelic support units that will explore the language’s on-screen representation.
The public festival is set to take place at various locations around the island, including the Isle of Tiree Distillery.
In addition to female director coaching and development, Skinner says there’s a scheduled swim every morning and a walk on the beach where “people can hang out and chat about movies.”
She added: “I think there’s something important about Tiree because it gives people time away from it all, to connect with each other and reflect.
“If we just had this in a cinema somewhere, we might not have the same space.
“I’m really looking forward to sharing energy and movies together.”