SUNDAY HERALD: Macdonald to share his Oscar secrets with festival goers in Skye

4th February 2007

LAST KING Of Scotland director Kevin Macdonald and culture secretary Tessa Jowell head the list of industry leaders coming to Skye in March for this year's Celtic Media Festival.

Scots-born Macdonald will be talking about the making of his Oscar-nominated film, telling the story of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin's relationship with Nicholas Garrigan, a fictional Scottish doctor drawn into his inner circle.

Festival producer Jude MacLaverty said: "Macdonald will tell his audience about the difficulties of raising funding and of filming on location in Uganda. Hopefully, the film will be an Oscar winner by then too."

It is hoped, but not yet confirmed, that he will be joined by James McAvoy, who plays Garrigan, and producer Andrea Calderwood.

Tessa Jowell is to hold a session on the role of indigenous language in multi-platform broadcasting, and is also expected to talk about the imminent launch of the Gaelic digital channel, which is being jointly run by BBC Scotland and the Gaelic Media Service.

Other highlights at the festival, of which the Sunday Herald is the media sponsor,includeadiscussionwith Douglas Mackinnon, director of The Flying Scotsman, and the world premiere of Seachd, one of very few Gaelic-language films ever to be made. Directed by Simon Miller and set in Skye, it tells the story of a young boy and his mysterious, superstitious grandfather.

There will be a strong focus on young people at this year's festival, with a dedicated strand called Future Creatives. This will include sessions by the writer Bernard MacLaverty, production designer Mark Leese and Big Brother creative director, Phil Edgar Jones.

Another session will look at young people's viewing habits, taking 10 schoolchildren from Portree to find out what films and television programmes they like and compare them with what is actually commissioned for them.

"Teenagers between 14 and 16 are deserting the television more quickly than anyone else for internet sites like YouTube. We hope to shed some light on this," said Jude MacLaverty.

The session was to have been held by Andy Parfitt, the controller of BBC Radio 1, but he was forced to cancel last week for family reasons.

Thefestivalexiststo showcase Celtic-made film and television. It is seen as one of the key opportunities in producers' calendars for pitching ideas to commissioners.

It traditionally rotates around Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Cornwall and Brittany, but Scotland has jumped the queue this year to be part of Highland 2007, the year-long celebration of Highland and Island culture.

With Scotland having last hosted the festival at Dundee in 2004, Jude MacLavertysaid:"WeaskedIreland politely if we could hold the festival this year and they said it was fine."

Thefestivalhasalsochangedits name from the CelticFilmand Television Festival to reflect the growingimportanceoftheinternetand other new media platforms.

To register as a delegate, visit

by Steven Vass

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