Scottish Film Festival Calendar

Scotland's cultural calendar is overflowing with excellent film festivals. Below is just a taste of some of the smart, inventive and inclusive festivals that help make the Scottish film scene the most vibrant in the UK

Article by Jamie Dunn | 03 Sep 2018

Take One Action!
Edinburgh & Glasgow, 12-23 Sep 2018
This is a festival to rouse you from your apathy. TOA raison d'etre is to bring audiences together to explore the pressing global issues of the day through film. Human rights violations, environmental concerns, gender inequality, the refugee crisis – all and more are examined through the lens of cinema. The upcoming edition features documentaries on a badarse female rapper from Sweden who’s kicking against the rise of the Far Right in her country and a film considering the fate of a Pacific archipelago that could soon be uninhabitable thanks to rising ocean levels.

Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival
Edinburgh & Glasgow, 4-20 Oct 2018
Despite its title, Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival brings both coasts a welcome peek at what’s cooking in Spanish cinema in any given year. Alongside these recent cinematic triumphs, the festival’s curators make sure to thread in classics of Spanish film too – many of them little-known on these shores – to give a flavour of what might have been influencing the country's contemporary filmmakers over the years. For foodies, a highlight should be the annual Gastronomic Film Evening, where short films are paired with small plates. Buen provecho!

Scotland Loves Anime
Edinburgh & Glasgow, mid-Oct 2018
The wildly inventive animation of Japan is lovingly championed in this annual festival, with insatiable anime fans travelling far and wide to sample SLA’s programming. Details of the upcoming edition are to be announced but expect features from some of the most exciting names in Japanese animation alongside anime series being given a big screen outing and some classics of the genre being resumed from the archives. There might even be a few live-action films thrown in there for good measure.

Africa in Motion
Edinburgh & Glasgow, 26 Oct-4 Nov 2018
Each year Africa in Motion steps in where UK distribution continually fails, and delivers a fascinating snapshot of a whole continent’s film scene that’s as vibrant and varied as the continent itself. As well as new movies, the festival also sprinkles its programme with older films, with the context helping show where African film has been so UK audiences can better see where it’s going. Of late, AiM has incorporated a more democratic approach to its film curation, with much of the festival programmed in collaboration with local groups and organisations.

Africa in Motion

French Film Festival
UK wide, mid-Nov 2018
French film fans are relatively well-served in the UK, but with around 300 films produced in France each year, we only see a fraction of this output on our screens. For a quarter of a century, the French Film Festival has been filling that gap. Whether you’re into existential dramas centred on the Parisian intelligentsia, souffle-light romantic comedies or riotous farces, the French Film Festival will have something for you. Each year the wide-ranging programme also presents a handful of gems from French cinema’s glittering past.

Glasgow, 18-21 Oct 2018
Scotland’s human rights festival, for over a decade Document has helped no-end in raising awareness of human rights abuses abroad and at home. The programme always offers a wide range of films, with each one acting as a jumping-off point for wider discussions, with filmmakers and organisations often present to kick off an impassioned conversation with the audience. Tickets for the festival screenings are free to refugees, asylum seekers, OAPs, and those on income support.

Glasgow, 5-9 Dec 2018
Scottish Queer International Film Festival has only been running for three editions, but in its relatively short life-span, it’s become one of Scotland’s most-loved and vital film festivals. The aim is simple: get Scotland watching, talking about and making more queer films. As well as the thoughtful programming, what makes SQIFF sing is its inclusive atmosphere and focus on access. Screenings are subtitled and BSL translators join the stage for most Q&As and talks; the CCA’s toilets become gender neutral and the brochure provides trigger warnings specific to people in the queer community. SQIFF also throw a great party too.

Glasgow Film Festival
Glasgow, 20 Feb-3 Mar 2019
Scotland’s most dreich month is warmed up no-end by one of its most lively festivals. The best of world cinema rubs shoulders with newly minted homegrown film for a programme rich with famous auteurs and talented greenhorns, with ten of the latter competing for GFF’s Audience Award. Best of all, GFF has built a reputation for reviving older films, with a free retrospective of Hollywood classics and a sprinkling of inventive pop-up screenings where familiar favourites are given a new lease of life in a new context (eg. Jaws on a boat, The Thing on a snow-covered ski slope, Con-Air in an airport hangar).

Glasgow Short Film Festival
Glasgow, 13-17 Mar 2019
An effortlessly cool and casually brainy edition to Scotland’s cultural calendar, GSFF celebrates the art of short films while also stretching the definition of what a short film is to breaking point (last year's edition opened with Kevin Everson's epic eight-hour doc Park Lanes). The international competition is an expertly curated snapshot of short filmmaking in any given year, while the Scottish competition gives a platform to emerging local talent. Add in sharp retrospectives, witty guest programmes and insightful symposiums and you have a must-attend festival.

Glasgow Short Film Festival

Hippodrome Silent Film Festival
Bo'ness, Falkirk, 20-24 Mar 2019
A silent film fan’s dream, the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival (or HippFest, as it’s affectionately known) has for the last eight years been lovingly celebrating cinema of the pre-sound age. The programme blends Hollywood classics with lesser-spotted foreign titles, archive material and forgotten oddities for an eclectic programme that’s always full of surprises. Best of all, each film gets the live score treatment, with several mint fresh scores commissioned each year, often from unusual sources.

Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival
Hawick, 2-6 May 2019
Bubbling away in the depths of the Scottish Borders is a razor-sharp but deeply welcoming festival of experimental film, where stalwarts of the avant-garde scene rub shoulders with enthusiastic newbies. The main hub is the Heart of Hawick cinema, but the festival spills out across the town with site-specific installations and expanded cinema events in pop-up venues. The festival is capped off on the final day by a blissful film walk to a picturesque corner of the local countryside to watch an experimental movie.

Scottish Mental Health Art and Film Festival
Scotland-wide, mid-May 2019
A festival that seems to grow more vital with each passing year, SMHAFF uses cinema – alongside other art forms like theatre, art and music – as a way to access and explore myriad issues of mental health. With every edition, SMHAFF helps to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and challenges preconceived notions of the people who suffer from it. Most importantly, it celebrates the artistic achievements of people with experience of mental health issues and gives a platform to their talent.

Edinburgh International Film Festival
Edinburgh, mid-Jun 2019
Look out your glad rags, this is Scotland’s glitziest film event. The heart of the festival is the Michael Powell competition, in which a dozen or so homegrown films compete for the Best British Film award. The huge programme also includes UK premieres of films from around the globe, with a particular focus on American indie titles. A sparkling retrospective or two can also be expected (this year featured a Women of American Cinema of the 1980s strand) along with short programmes, industry events and a sharply-curated experimental section.

Edinburgh International Film Festival