Peebles will host a “film festival for all”


PEEBLES will host a festival that aims to highlight emerging talents in independent cinema.

The Scotland International Festival of Cinema (SIFC) is the brainchild of American director Stephen Savage and Trinity Houston, the founders of Idyllwild Cinema Festival in Southern California, with the help of Scottish actress Mhairi Calvey (Braveheart ).

Peebles is home to producer and festival actress Vivien Reid, who suggested her hometown to Savage when she took her film The box at Idyllwild in 2018.

“He [Stephen] said, ‘I really want to do this [a Scottish film festival] but I would like it to be in a place like Idyllwild, I don’t want it to be in a town, I want it to be in a town,” Vivien said. “I just smiled and said I live in Scotland’s version of Idyllwild and told him all about Peebles.”

She added: ‘I felt the Scottish Borders had a really passionate community of people who love the arts, and not just film but all types of art, so I said I could see that. [festival] works great here.

“I just thought it would be an amazing thing for Peebles to do.

“As soon as I told him [Stephen] meanwhile, it sold out pretty quickly, because it really looks like Idyllwild.

“When I got there [Idyllwild] I felt so at home because it was so similar to Peebles, it was very scenic. It means a lot to me that this is happening here.

The SIFC will take place at the Eastgate Theater in April and will see almost 80 films, including shorts and feature films on several topics, screened around the city.

“That was one of the scariest things,” Vivien explained, “with a freshman film festival, what kind of films are going to be submitted?

“You go through this panic of wanting someone to submit, will someone submit to a freshman film festival?

“But my goodness they did, and I’m so thrilled with the level of craftsmanship in the film, it’s exciting, we have some real gems.”

And the festival also hopes to hold Q&A sessions with creators, as well as a forum for women in film. The film week will then end with an awards ceremony in more than 20 categories. The Borders already hosts the Alchemy Film Festival in Hawick and the Peebles Open Air Film Festival, but Vivien says the SIFC will “not be walking on any feet”.

She said: “As far as I’m concerned, there’s so much going on in the Scottish Borders, you’ve also got Alchemy and all these other film festivals, that I kind of feel like we won’t be treading on the person’s feet because it’s going to be very different.

Vivien and the team behind the SIFC hope that although film entries for the festival have come from all over the world, the local community will join the event in April.

She said: “We would like to attract people from further afield, but if we can bring the locals behind [festival] we really win. Especially after the last two years where everyone wanted the storytelling escape. I really hope that when I go down to the Eastgate on April 19, the theater will be buzzing. I want the theater and the town of Peebles to feel alive. I just want people to come and enjoy being part of it.

“It’s a film festival for everyone.”

The Scottish International Film Festival will take place from April 19-24 at the Eastgate Theatre.

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