Film festival in Fife shines a spotlight on environmental issues

Joint effort...Transition University of St Andrews founded the festival in 2013 and it has grown steadily since but new volunteers are now being sought.
Joint effort...Transition University of St Andrews founded the festival in 2013 and it has grown steadily since but new volunteers are now being sought.

This year’s St Andrews Green Film Festival will focus its lens on just one film.

Following the largest festival in the event’s six-year history last year, the organisers are now fundraising for another major run in 2020.

From town and gown...the festival is organised by volunteers from the university and town, such as former committee members Rebecca Grant, Tara Chalmers, and Freyja Haddrill.

From town and gown...the festival is organised by volunteers from the university and town, such as former committee members Rebecca Grant, Tara Chalmers, and Freyja Haddrill.

However, the film that will be screened in the Byre Theatre auditorium on Saturday, February 23, at 7pm is certain to inspire anyone who sees it.

The recently released Beyond Crisis is a gripping documentary, exploring what it means to be living in a rapidly changing world and an era of climate change. A story of hope, it paints an inspiring image of a better world that is not consumed by crisis and climate disruption, but instead looks forward to a more sustainable future for all.

The screening will be followed by a discussion on the film’s key themes in the Byre auditorium at 8.15pm with guest panellists Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, and Dr Darren McCauley, a senior lecturer at University of St Andrews.

Connie Dawson, the festival’s co-director, said: “The aim of the festival is to inspire as many individuals as possible, whether they be university students, school children or members of the local community.

Directed by Kai Reimer-Watts, climate change is at the heart of the movie to be screened this year, Beyond Crisis.

Directed by Kai Reimer-Watts, climate change is at the heart of the movie to be screened this year, Beyond Crisis.

“Our festival showcases films, workshops and talks, with the aim of highlighting global environmental and sustainability issues.

“Film immersion through images, sounds and symbols is a powerful tool to raise awareness.

“We are excited to be screening Beyond Crisis. It’s a gripping story which I’m sure will inspire our audiences.”

The festival is part of the Transition University of St Andrews project which runs more than 150 events every year covering smarter travel, zero waste, local produce and the sharing of knowledge.

The inaugural festival was held in 2013 when it screened films primarily to a university audience.

Since then, it has continually grown in size, reaching a diverse audience from across town and gown.

Last year, the largest festival to date was staged over a total of four nights, showcasing an assortment of stimulating green films on topics ranging from the re-use movement to the potential for bugs to become a staple protein source.

Alistair Macleod has been the Transition project manager since 2012, a year after it was founded.

He had been working in Dundee as a sustainable energy officer with a housing association.

However, he wanted to lower his own carbon footprint by working closer to his home in Anstruther.

So he has had a front row seat to watch the Green Film Festival blossom.

While Beyond Crisis will be the only film this year, he is also working with university students on a number of events to be staged during the festival.

Alistair said: “We’re working with the film studies department at the university to curate the film.

“The students are also working on a number of projects for the festival, which will be announced on our website soon.”

A series of short films has also been entered for this year’s Leafies.

Alistair said: “We’ve been running the competition for the last three or four years.

“It’s a great concept which allows local people to share their own green short films with our audiences.”

The Transition team will once again be surveying movie-goers this year following the Beyond Crisis screening and talk.

Explaining why, Alistair said: “We are interested in how films can create action so we ask the audience what actions they will be taking as a direct result of the movie.

“We always try to focus on great filmmakers who have turned their lens on really emotive subjects.

“So people usually leave inspired to take action on the back of what they’ve seen.

“I’m sure this year’s movie will serve as a catalyst for change and I’m interested to see the audience response.”

While Transition funds the festival, it relies on volunteers from town and gown to organise it.

There are usually just six to 10 people involved.

That’s why the team is now fundraising for next year’s event and appealing for more people to join.

Alistair added: “We hope to create a festival that is bigger and better in 2020 and will be fundraising to do that.

“We’d be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to get involved.”

To volunteer, email standrewsgreenfilm@gmail.com or transition@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Beyond Crisis will be screened in the Byre Theatre on Saturday, February 23, at 7pm. Tickets, priced £5 (£4 concs), are available at byretheatre.com.