Small Islands Film Festival

Homecoming – South and East

2-3 October, Isle of Islay,  Argyll

To celebrate Scotland’s ‘Year of Homecoming’ the Small Islands Film Festival 2009 focuses on the theme of ‘home’ and homecoming’ in a packed programme of screenings and discussions of award-winning shorts, documentaries, drama-docs and rare archive films from the world’s island communities. Earlier in the year we explored  our interpretation of ‘island homecoming’ from the perspective of ‘North and West’ with our third annual  festival event that took place on the Isle of Benbecula, Western Isles, 19-21st June 2009. Details of  this are posted below.

Now we wish to  continue with  our homecoming theme by returning to the island of Islay for our second contribution to this year’s 2009 Homecoming celebrations by staging a further festival event.  The Small Islands Film Trust operates in partnership with the Scottish Centre for Island Studies, Faculty of Business and Creative Industries at the University of the West of Scotland and are delighted to stage this Homecoming 2009 Islay event in partnership with Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle (The Columba Centre, Islay). We would also wish to thank FILM G for their continued support.

 Please view further details of this and previous festival events by clicking on ‘Home’ and Dates on this site.

  • All screenings will take place at Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle, Gart na Trà, Bogha Mòr, Eilean Ìle / Columba Centre, Bowmore, Islay. The main programme of screenings (Sessions A-D) will be complimented by additional Gaelic related film materials accessible at the Centre’s Library/Learning Resource Room (Session E).
  • For details of the short programme of screenings and discussion please click here SIFF Islay 09 Programme (Short Version). Please keep checking for further changes/updates.
  • Full Programme and Film Notes are available here: SIFF Full Programme Islay 09 .
  • For details of how to book tickets in advance for the Islay event as well as details for payment please click here SIFF Booking Islay 2009. Highlights include:
    • From Chile: The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1952) – Director Luis Buñuel’s take on Defoe’s classic tale. Defoe’s story itself is of course based on the true experiences of Fife’s Alexander Selkirk.
    • Being Rapanui (2007) offers an  insider’s perspective on Rapanui, aka Easter Island. Set against endless oceans, monolithic moai, exquisite petroglyphs and oral histories, the mystery of Rapanui is revealed.
    • From Tasmania:  Black Man’s Houses (1992)  is a documentary that tells the story of black survival in Tasmania amidst the continuing suppression of history and culture. In doing so, it challenges skin-deep assumptions about Aboriginality today.
    • From Hawaii:  Act of War: The Overthrow of the Hawai’ian Nation (1993)  This hour-long documentary is a provocative look at a historical event of which few Americans are aware. In mid-January, 1893, armed troops from the U.S.S. Boston landed at Honolulu in support of a treasonous coup d’etat against the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen Lili’uokalani. The event was described by U.S. President Grover Cleveland as “an act of war.”
    • From Scotland: Gaelic and English features and documentaries on ‘home’ and ‘homecoming’ in Scotland’s islands including Mike Alexander’s Home and Away (1974)
    • And to kick off our programme, and the ‘South and East’ theme, we screen Powell and Pressburger’s  classic I know where I’m going (1945) which offers a narrative of  British metropolitan ’southern-ness’ challenged by the experience of relocating to Argyll’s real and mythic island world and inviting the audience to share in its romance and a  ’homecoming’  of her own for English bride-to-be, Joan as she comes to terms with identity, modernity and an appreciation of ‘being’ rather than ‘becoming’.


    Small Islands Film Festival

    Homecoming – North & West

    19 – 21 June, Isle of Benbecula, Outer Hebrides

    Our third annual  festival event began on the Isle of Benbecula, Western Isles over the dates 19-21st June 2009. The main venue was the Screen Machine: Take 2  located outside the Dark Island Hotel, Liniclate. A parallel programme of alternative screenings took place in the St Kilda Suite, Dark Island Hotel.

  • For details of the full  programme of screenings and discussion please click here: Smiff Benbecula 2009 Final Screening Schedule v3 (updated 17th June).
  • Press Release with commentry on this year’s festival: SMIFF Benbecula Press Release 09
  • Homecoming – North and West

    To celebrate Scotland’s ‘Year of Homecoming’ the Small Islands Film Festival 2009 focuses on the theme of ‘home’ and homecoming’ in a packed programme of screenings and discussions of award-winning shorts, documentaries, drama-docs and rare archive films from the world’s island communities ‘North and West’.

    Highlights include:

    • From Nunavut, Canada: the European Premier of Isuma Productions’ Exile (2009) a searing account of loss of home and resilience on a High Arctic island and the Scottish premiere of The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006) plus associated rare Scottish archive films by Jenny Gilbertson in the High Arctic and Isobel Wylie Hutchison in Greenland. 
    • From Barra and Italy: Tim Neat’s ‘Play Me Something’
    • From Ireland: a 50th Anniversary screening of Mise Eire (1959) and ‘Waiting for the Light (2008)’ on the life and work of its director, Irish film-maker George Morrison
    • From the Uists and the Western Isles: New island talent in award winning Film G shorts on the Screen Machine ‘big screen’!
    • From Sweden: ‘Bergman and Fårö Island’, an insight into world stature film-maker, Ingmar, Bergman, and his small island home
    • From Scotland: Gaelic documentaries on ‘home’ and ‘homecoming’ in Scotland’s islands of the North and West
    • Focus on Igloolik, Nunavut film, minority language and culture plus discussions with guest film-makers from Scotland, Ireland and Canada

    Further details on some of the highlights:

    The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006)


    DIRECTOR(S): Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn

    Produced by Igloolik Isuma Production

    SYNOPSIS:  Iglulik, 1922-23.

    Real people, actual events.

    The great shaman, Avva, and his family are living on the land some distance from Iglulik, his home community that lately has taken up the teachings of Christian missionaries. Explorer/adventurer Knud Rasmussen pays Avva a visit, accompanied by two fellow Danes: trader Peter Freuchen and anthropologist Therkel Mathiassen.  

    Rasmussen hears and records Avva’s life story and that of his wife Orulu.  Their son, Natar, impulsively agrees to guide Freuchen and Mathiassen north to Iglulik. After a celebration, Rasmussen leaves to head west while Avva, facing strong headwinds, sets out with his family and guests en route for home. His beautiful daughter, Apak, has troubling dreams about the road ahead.

    On Isuma:     “In an oral culture that never anchored its history with pen and paper, digital technology today affords new opportunities for storytellers. High-definition cameras are particularly well suited to the ancient art and values of Inuit storytelling, which invites viewers directly into a world of sentient beings – with no introductions – welcome to watch, listen and think for themselves.” For full details on all of Isuma’s film and production activities, people and developments click:

    “Our name Isuma means ‘to think’ – as in Thinking Productions. Young and old work together to keep our ancestors’ knowledge alive.” 

    Waiting for the Light (2008)

    Written, Directed and Produced by Cıarín Scott.

    © Atlantic Film Alliance 2008

    Sunday Tribune

    ‘Scott’s portrait of Morrison is refreshingly frank and intimate… A challenging account of his extraordinary life’

    Ciaran Carty, 20th July 2008

    Irish Times

    ‘Ciarín Scott’s absorbing Waiting for the Light pays welcome, long overdue tribute to George Morrison, the pioneering director of the remarkable historical documentaries, Mise Éire and Saoirse?

    Michael Dwyer, 16th July 2008




    Play Me Something (1989) (dir: Tim Neat)PMS 01 Barra shoot

    (Winner Europa  Prize Barcelona 1989.) 

    Shot on Barra and in Venice with John Berger, Tilda Swinton, Hamish Henderson, Liz Lochhead. Music Jim Sutherland, photos Jean Mohr. 72 minutes.

    Synopsis: At the airport on the Outer Hebrides island of Barra, a small group of people await the delayed plane to Glasgow on the Scottish mainland. Among the local passengers is the Stranger (John Berger). He tells a long story about the North Italian peasant Bruno (Charlie Barron) on his first time visit to Venice on a weekend trip. This story within the story, about Bruno falling in love with Marietta (Lucia Lanzarini), is taken from John Berger´s own Once in Europe (published 1987).

    The film moves between the meeting of the two of the inner story and the interaction of the waiting passengers of outer story, which includes a hairdresser setting off for a job on the mainland (Tilde Swinton) and a singer (Margaret Bennett). And finally the aircraft arrives. 

    Please find some related links here:


     Suibhlachan  (The Traveller) (2008)Suibhlachan

    Dir: Uisdean Murray

     A Lily Island Films / Moniton Pictures co-production

    Sgeul smaointeachail mu dheidhinn nighean òg,
    Seonag, a tha siubhal air ais ann an tìm agus
    a tadhal air a Seanair nach maireann.
    A poignant tale about a young girl,
    Seonag, who travels back in time to
    visit her recently deceased Grandfather.

    Link to director Uisdean Murray’s site here at and for  here


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