St Andrews’ Own International Film Festival, Sands, Reveals Debut Programme

Sands: International Film Festival of St Andrews reveals the films taking centre stage for its inaugural programme. From 25th-27th March 2022, filmmakers from around the world will gather in the historic University town, to not only showcase their work, but to engage directly with cinemagoers and the larger community in a range of supporting events, all housed in the Byre Theatre that takes on the role of the festival hub for the weekend.

The diversely curated programme comprises nine fiction and non-fiction feature films (including a special mystery film yet to be announced), many of which have only been seen previously at the biggest film festivals in the world.

St Andrews is often cited as the place where great things first blossomed, and this is reflected in the theme of Beginnings that unites the films of this year’s programme. Sands is dedicated to championing filmmakers at the beginning of their career, with many of the films showcased being feature debuts for their respective directors.

Leith-based filmmaking duo, Will Hewitt and Austen McCowan, who have received Scottish Baftas for their short films, present Long Live My Happy Head, a documentary love story about comic books and cancer. Blerta Basholli’s feature debut and breakout hit at Sundance, Hiveis inspired by one Kosovan woman’s true story of determination in face of patriarchal oppression and family tragedy.

The programme also features work by filmmakers more established in their careers such as Christopher Makoto Yogi’s second featureI Was a Simple Man, is a personal film, focusing on a family in Hawai’i. Diego Ongaro’s Down With The King, stars real life rap star Freddie Gibbs while Jono Mcleod’s documentary, My Old School, starring Scotland’s national treasure Alan Cumming, follows the true story of the notorious imposter Brandon Lee who was an ex-classmate of Mcleod in Bearsden Academy.

The University of St Andrews is an integral part of the Sands International Film Festival, and thanks to the relationship with the University’s Centre for Screen Cultures the festival can share more details of the academic strand of this year’s programme. Following the publication of the Screendossier: ‘Tracing the Anthropocene in Southeast Asian film and artists’ moving image’, co-edited by Dr Philippa Lovatt, (Im)material worlds: an artists’ moving image programme that gives focus to the environmental crisis from Global South and postcolonial perspectives is announced featuring discussions with the film makers and are free to the public.

Ania Trzebiatowska, Festival Director said I am absolutely delighted to finally reveal the programme for the first ever Sands: International Film Festival of St Andrews. Over the past two years, we’ve been reminded of what a privilege the collective cinema experience is, and that it can too often be taken for granted, so I am hugely excited that we will be able to share these 9 fantastic films with audiences. The process wasn’t without its challenges, but we are proud to have a programme that doesn’t just reflect the diversity of films out there, but showcases the quality of work that spawns from the inclusion of new voices. If audiences have half as much fun watching the programme as we had making it, then I’m sure we will be in for a fantastic festival.”

Further details of screenings and events will be released in the coming weeks.

For more information go to 

Irene Brown

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