Dunoon diary

Postcards from a seaside festival.

by Donald Munro

Dunoon Film Festival
Dunoon Film Festival
The first Dunoon Film Festival ran from the 14th to the 16 of June. It was a fairly small festival with a program of roughly 25 films and events spread across three screens in two venues. One of these venues was the Burgh Hall which is a listed building that is undergoing a process of renovation. There is a certain charm to the building with its roughness. You can see something of its previous uses, like the gymnasium lines on the floor. The other venue was the Studio Cinema. It is a big blue corrugated metal shed that sits between whitewashed Victorian buildings on John Street, just round the corner from the Burgh Hall. It is a legacy from the American submarine base that used to be situated on the Holy Loch just north of Dunoon. The cinema's two screens have a cosy and comfortable feel.

The programme had two broad themes that reflect Dunoon's character as a town: Scottish identity and connection with the sea. These seemed to engage the festival-goers. Many of the events were well attended with some looking like they had sold out. Out of the events that I was at this was the case for the screenings of all six episodes of the iconic TV series Your Cheatin' Heart and the Saudi Arabian film Wadjda. It was the first time that Your Cheatin' Heart had been seen since its original BBC release over 20 years ago. For me, seeing it again in full (I missed a couple of episodes when it was first broadcast) was a highlight of the festival. Hopefully the BBC will see sense and re-release it.

The first two episodes were shown back to back at the Burgh Hall. It was introduced by its writer John Byrne, the musician Eddi Reader who had a prominent role in the series, and its producer Peter Broughan. I got the impression that some other people who had been involved in the production also turned up. Afterwards the country and western band The Hellfire Club played a set but the audience petered out as people headed off to catch the last ferries to Gourouck. I heard that the film workshop and youth events were well attended.

Unfortunately the festival suffered form a number of technical problems. These were mostly issues with sound. For only two venues there were a lot of films in a number of different formats. The issue I think that they had was with getting the right bits of kit patched together. Most of the problems were solved fairly quickly. This was the first film festival to be held in Dunoon so there were always going to be snags.

There was also a problem with the subtitling of Wadjda but when offered refunds or alternate tickets most of the audience chose to stay with the film. It was actually quite easy to follow without subtitles, which is down to the strong performances of the child actors in it. Many people who saw it were impressed and were talking about wanting to head into Glasgow to see it when it gets its cinematic release. This shows that there is an appetite for film outside the major cities.

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