By James Williamson
Whether you have come to St Andrews expressly to study film, or want to flex your own filmmaking muscles, or if you simply like watching films, St Andrews has something to cater to your tastes. The town has its own independent cinema, the New Picture House, located on North Street, where you can see all the latest releases or one of their weekly late-night showings of classic films. If you would rather rent a DVD, there is the Alphabet Video store on South Street which offers a wide range of titles for a quiet night in front of the TV. Alternatively, you can get free 3-day loans from the university’s very own audio-visual collection, found on level 3 of the library.
There is also a vibrant film community within the student body. For those who want to get together with other film buffs, or just wish to enjoy an informal showing with fellow students, there is the St Andrews University Film Society. On the other hand, if you’ve always wanted to try some aspect of filmmaking and never had the chance, or if you’re already experienced and want to get involved with a project here in St Andrews, the university has its own Filmmaking Society, Rogue Productions. Rogue aims to support the budding student filmmaker through offering resources and by providing a means of getting involved in the university’s filmmaking community.
Rogue Productions also hosts the Half Cut Film Festival as part of the annual On The Rocks arts festival. Half Cut was conceived with the aim of showcasing the best in student film from across Scotland and has already drawn the attention of acclaimed studio Pixar (Up, Toy Story 3), who this year provided two of the judges, animators Jaime Landes and Lindsay VanderGalien. They were joined by BAFTA award-winning filmmaker Robert Sproul-Cran and Kevin Dunion, the university’s rector.
But while Half Cut may be the most notable film-related event in the student calendar, it is far from being one of a kind. In May the St Andrews Feminists, one of the newest societies, hosted a Feminist Film Festival, while last year saw St Andrews’ first French and Italian film festivals, supported by the university’s Film Studies department. Back in November, the town also played host to the Africa in Motion Film Festival, the UK’s largest African Film Festival.
In a relatively short time, St Andrews has seen the development of an active film culture, embracing everything from mainstream Anglo-American blockbusters to a wide range of foreign and artistic films, while also nurturing its own home-grown filmmaking talent – a contrast which befits the eclectic nature of the University and town.