Celtic Media Festival gets off to flying start

Alan McGee
Alan McGee
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the 32nd annual Celtic Media Festival got well underway in Stornoway yesterday (Wednesday), providing just a taste of what’s in store for the 350 plus festival-goers who have descended upon the island for the hotly-anticipated festival which celebrates the very best of film, television, radio and digital media to emerge from within the Celtic diaspora within the last year.

The celebrations got underway with a screening of Upside Down: The Story of Creation Records followed by a Q & A with Director Danny O’Connor, Creation Records Boss Alan McGee and musician Mark Gardner. The celebrations are set to continue into the early hours at the Creation Records Opening Party which will feature an explosive DJ set by Alan McGee inspired by Creation’s portfolio, including Jesus and Mary Chain, Teenage Fanclub, Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals, and of course, Oasis.

Day One of the three day festival also saw the first batch of Bronze Torc Awards for Excellence awarded for Factual Series, Factual Single, Education, Entertainment, Sport, Arts and Student Entertainment, with the remaining awards announced over the next two days.

Yesterday’s awards went to:

· The Bronze Torc for Arts went to Only Men Aloud – O Dredegar Newydd i Efrog Newydd by Boomerang + / S4C. The choir, made up from 20 young men from South Wales, were catapulted into the public realm after being crowned ‘The Nations Favourite Choir’ on BBC1 TV show ‘Last Choir Standing’

· The Education Award went to Irish production, Teens in the Wild by Firebrand Productions / RTÉ. The programme follows Clinical psychologist, David Coleman who takes a group of six troubled teenagers, on a 21 day wilderness activities and therapy course, charting the girls’ battles with issues including anger management, bereavement, separation and problems at school

Bronze Torc for Excellence in Entertainment went to Child’s Christmases in Wales by Boomerang + / BBC Four. This one-off period comedy delves into the lives of a south Wales family’s Christmases across the 1980s. The show was written by comedian Mark Watson and inspired by a Dylan Thomas short story

· Best Factual Single went to The Pipe by Scannáin Inbhear / TG4. This documentary chronicles the personal and community strife caused by the controversial Corrib gas project

· Best Factual Series went to 1916 – Seachtar na Cásca by Abú Media / TG4

· The Bronze Torc for Excellence in Sport went to Vincent O’Brien - The Master by Orusco / RTÉ which tells the story of the legendary horse-trainer

· The Student Entertainment Award went to Greg Joslin from the Devon and Cornwall region for his project Jobesworth

This year, 98 productions, companies and personalities have been shortlisted across the 19 Bronze Torc Awards for Excellence categories – including factual, arts, drama, entertainment, sport, current affairs, children and young people’s programmes, as well as radio station of the year and radio presenter - with a total of 450 entries having been submitted from across Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, the Isle of Man and Ireland.

Over the next few days, festival-goers can look forward to a packed programme of events including daily screenings of shorts, documentaries and feature films, not to mention some very special guest contributors. There will a panel discussion on music programming with renowned Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, an ‘in person’ discussion with prolific actor and film-maker Peter Mullan, a TV presenting workshop led by Morag Stewart, a panel discussion on Celtic comedy chaired by comedienne Karen Dunbar, and a talk exploring the next format in television programming by Channel 4’s Stuart Cosgrove and the Executive Producer of Come Dine with Me.

Meanwhile, the festival will also be opened up to non-delegates with free public screenings around the Western Isles in Barra, Benbecula, Harris and North Uist, including a film especially selected and introduced by Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton for the 8½ Foundation, an exclusive insight into how to transform the dangerous art of climbing into a television broadcast (5 Climbs, 5 Islands), and to top it all off, a traditional ceilidh.

Celtic Media Festival Chairman Donald Campbell commented: “This year’s Celtic Media Festival has got off to an incredible start with a huge coup for the festival in Alan McGee’s insightful, evocative and thoroughly entertaining Upside Down, not to mention some fantastic, well-deserved winners of the Bronz Torc Awards for Excellence.

“We can’t wait see what the next two days have in store for us.”