Aberdeen lights up the Dark Nights with new film festival

Aberdeen lights up the Dark Nights with new film festival

From blood-curdling zombie attacks and sword-fighting immortals to the past, present and future of the world's most popular spy, a brand-new film festival is set to light up the long dark North-east evenings next month.

A stellar line up of film industry insiders will share their insights and experience as part of ‘Dark Nights’, a unique celebration of Scottish people and stories on the silver screen.

Organised by the University of Aberdeen, Dark Nights is the first in a series of new festivals the University is hosting in 2022. The full programme, ‘UNI-Versal’, will see a raft of events focused on new ideas, Scottish heritage, culture and music take place throughout the year.

Open to all, the festivals are part of the University’s commitment to supporting the city region’s recovery from Covid-19.

Professor Peter Edwards, Vice-Principal of Regional Engagement and Regional Recovery, said: “Scotland has a rich history in the cultural arts with its people, places and stories creating a vibrant creative sector whose influence resonates around the world.

“The University itself is a cultural focal point for the local community. We are a catalyst for creativity, nurturing new ideas and, through our wide range of engaging and interactive festivals and events, providing the forum for bringing people together, something we believe is hugely important to our role in the North-east.

“UNI-Versal will provide a raft of exciting opportunities for audiences to explore a wide range of cultural topics throughout the year and the Dark Nights film festival is the perfect antidote to the long, dark evenings. We look forward to welcoming locals and visitors alike to our campus or other city centre venues to enjoy the experience.”

Dark Nights runs from March 4-5, offering a varied programme of events supported by writers, directors, editors and actors from across the cinematic spectrum.

It includes a free spine-tingling screenwriting workshop with Glasgow screenwriter Sergio Casci, who scripted the modern slice of Hammer macabre ‘The Lodge’.

Scottish actor Ian McCulloch will share his thoughts in a talk at King’s College on March 5 after a special screening of the seminal 1979 shocker ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’, in which he starred and which garnered controversy during the 1980s for its gory subject matter.

Designed to showcase some of Scotland’s stories and links to film with a curious slant, the festival includes two events dedicated to the James Bond series and the Highlander mythology.

Edinburgh-based author Jonathan Melville will be present to answer audience questions after a screening of Highlander on March 5, with a focus on his epic book that covers the entire production history of the Celtic sci-fi smash-hit.

Sean Connery's ongoing legacy and lineage as 007 meanwhile will be addressed by a panel of Bond franchise alumni including British film and television editor John Grover (Octopussy, The Living Daylights) and cinematographer Phil Méheux (Goldeneye, Casino Royale) for a talk about their cinematic undercover operations in the panel ‘Shaken Not Stirred - Bond: Past, Present and Future’ on March 4.

The programme will also shine a light on driving diversity in the arts with a free to attend panel session at King’s College on March 5 featuring Alexandra Maria Colta from the 50/50 Women Direct, Scottish Documentary Institute; Dr Clive Nwonka, lecturer in Film, Culture and Society at University College London; and Ica Headlam, founder of community interest group ‘We Are Here Scotland’.

This will be followed by a presentation by Borders-born director Naomi Holwill on her new documentary that remembers the recently unearthed Black action films of the apartheid era in South Africa and reflects on what this means for aspiring South African filmmakers and fans today.

Dr Calum Waddell, lecturer at the School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture, said: “Having only recently joined the University I’m excited to be part of bringing this dynamic new festival to the North-east. We have a stellar line up of guests attending with some big film industry names, especially those connected with the Bond event, sure to appeal to a wide audience of film fans.”

Further events will be announced shortly. Details of the UNI-Versal series and the Dark Nights film festival programme can be found at on the University website. Booking is required for both free and paid-for events.

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