Memories of the unique travelling cinema that toured the Highlands and Islands from the 1940s to the 1970s are being sought by a team of researchers based at the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling. RSS’s Director, Robert Livingston, is delighted to be a member of the project’s Advisory Group. Here at Regional Screen Scotland we’ve always been very conscious that, long before the Screen Machine took to the road, there was a much more extensive film service that for 25 years covered an area stretching from from Argyll to Shetland. Now, this major research project is the first to explore people’s memories of the Highlands and Islands Film Guild, and the team of researchers – led by Ian Goode at the University of Glasgow – want to hear from anyone who remembers the Guild or was involved in its operation. The Highlands and Islands Film Guild was an Inverness-based mobile cinema service set up after the second world war. The Guild’s fleet of specially-equipped vans travelled the Highlands screening films in village halls, schools and even people’s homes. In the days before the Screen Machine, the Guild brought the latest Hollywood films to communities across the Highlands and Islands.
“The Highlands and Islands Film Guild was a unique moment in Scottish cinema – and Highland and Island life. For the first time, a mobile cinema brought the stars of the big screen right into the everyday lives of people right across the Highlands and Islands,” said Ian. “We are looking to speak with anybody who experienced the Highlands and Islands Film Guild, from people that were involved in putting productions to audience members. No matter how brief anyone’s experiences of the Guild are, or how long ago, we would love to hear from them.”
The team are also holding a number of events around the Highlands and Islands relating to the project, starting with a recreated Film Guild programme on Friday 11th November at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, held in partnership with the Inverness Film Festival. This event will include a special 16mm screening featuring Scott of the Antarctic (1948) in colour, a newsreel, informational film and cartoon. The evening will also include readings of newly commissioned creative works inspired by memories of cinema-going.
The project’s co-investigator Sarah Neely from the University of Stirling said, “As part of the project, we are also looking for participants for creative writing workshops at various festivals throughout the Highlands and Islands which will be held over the next year. The first one will be a half-day event held at the Inverness film festival on Saturday 12th November”. The workshop is free but ticketed, and open to writers of all levels of experience. For more details visit: Inverness Film Festival (over 18s only).
Ealasaid Munro, the research associate on the project, said “we will be travelling the country throughout 2017 and hope to meet as many people as possible who remember the Guild. We hope eventually to take in Orkney, Shetland, Skye and the small isles, the Western Isles, Argyll and Sutherland”. If you remember the Highlands and Islands Film Guild and the films that they showed, or were involved in any way in its operation, the team would love to hear from you. You can email with Ealasaid Munro and call her on 0141 330 6944, or email with Ian Goode and call him on 0141 330 6500