THE full programme has been revealed for this year’s Hebrides International Film Festival (HIFF), which will screen a range of new and archive feature films, documentaries and shorts at 10 venues across the Hebridean island communities from May 15-20.

The festival continues its ambition to “change the world through story and environmental documentary” with two exclusive festival screenings of new international feature films.

Tearepa Kahi’s Muru is a new Maori action-drama about the real-life “anti-terrorism” armed raids conducted by New Zealand police in 2007 against the Tuhoe community of Urewera which sparked nationwide controversy.

The festival will also show Abe Hassan’s Exodus. Set in Syria and programmed by HIFF to reflect Syrian communities living in the Hebrides, it tells a tale of two worlds colliding as people-smuggler Sam reluctantly saves 12-year-old Amal, whose family has gone missing in the civil war.

Other highlights across the packed six-day festival include Scottish archive films returning to the big screen including select highlights from Andy Mackinnon’s ambitious new project Cinema Sgire, which seeks to digitise more than 100 videotapes produced by communities across the Outer Hebrides – from Ness to Vatersay– in the 1970s.

The screening will feature intimate insights into the traditional ways of community life as well as painting a portrait of a developing and shifting time, with footage of the blacksmith Jellicoe at work in his smiddy in Ness, traditional tweed making, sheep shearing, and visits to Welsh and Irish community development projects.

HIFF will also screen Mackinnon’s project with Kirsty MacDonald’s Duthchas/Home, featuring previously unseen Kodachrome 8mm archive film of everyday life on the Isle of Berneray through the 1960s and 1970 with a new soundtrack composed by Donald Shaw. (Celtic Connections, Capercaillie).

There’s also a chance to see Allen Moore’s remastered 1981 documentary The Shepherds Of Berneray, following Allen and his fellow Harvard University filmmaker Jack Shea as they moved their families to the Outer Hebrides and documented 18 months of their lives amidst the crofters who even then were a vanishing breed.

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Allen will also take part in a live Q&A after the screening at An Lanntair on May 19.

Also featuring are new and recent Scottish films including Stuff The World Is Made Of, Paul Cox’s profile of Hebrides-based sculptor Steve Dilworth; Richie Adams’s historical Outer Hebridean drama The Road Dance, about a terrible tragedy that befalls an isolated young woman in the run-up to the First World War; and Paul Mescal’s Oscar-nominated turn in Scottish director Charlotte Wells’s feature debut Aftersun, plus Cat Bruce’s animated Gaelic language folktale Dùsgadh (Awakening).

Irish language films including the Best Foreign Language Film 2023 Oscar nominee An Cailín Ciúin / The Quiet Girl and short film Titim Isteach about a young skateboarding community in a small island off the West Coast, plus recent Irish crowd-pleasers Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast and Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Iniserin.

Enlightening and positive environmental documentaries from across the globe including Inhabitants: Indigenous Perspectives on Restoring Our World, which follows five Native American Tribes across deserts, coastlines, forests, and prairies as they restore their traditional land management practices.

Also, Last of the Right Whales, charting the migration of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale and the people committed to saving a species still struggling to recover from centuries of hunting, Savage Waters following modern-day surfers inspired by a 19th century treasure hunter’s diary to find and ride a giant wave that may not exist and Emma Davie’s urgent The Oil Machine, looking at how the drama of global climate action is playing out in the fight over North Sea oil.

A unique opportunity is available to experience the latest in virtual reality immersive technology headsets, with a series of films including Anandala by award-winning immersive artist Kevin Mack with technology supplied by the University of the West of Scotland Creative Computing Technologies research group.

There is also big screen entertainment for young film fans with Dutch animation Oink about nine year old Babs who must keep her pet pig away from the annual sausage competition, Italian animated adventure about a young sea monster Luca and CGI musical comedy, Lyle Lyle Crocodile plus international short films with an environmental message including the tale of two polar bears driven into exile due to global warming in Migrants and Quma and The Beasts, award-winning animation about a young boy in Argentina 12000 years ago who dreams of being a hunter.

Special HIFF events including whale watching from Tiumpan Head on Lewis - one of the best places to see whales and dolphins from land- with local wildlife observer Janet Marshall and the chance to help out with an Isle of Lewis Beach Clean on 20 May in association with Clean Coast Outer Hebrides

The festival takes place at a range of established arts cinemas and new community venues across the Hebridean island, from Stornoway’s renowned arts hub An Lanntair to its most Northerly venue Taigh Dhonnchaidh (aka ‘Duncan’s House’) at Port of Ness, via Castlebay Hall on the Isle of Barra and the Hebrides exciting new Gaelic cultural hub Cnoc Soilleir on Uist.

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HIFF programmer Muriel Ann Macleod said: “We are thrilled that the Hebrides International Film Festival is returning to bring great film stories from across the world to our island audiences in the Hebrides. This year’s festival shines a light on contemporary stories of change, both in how we are all negotiating dealing with environmental issues as systems change and cultures struggle to continue.

"Our programme reflects a diversity in island and First Nation experiences around the world and right here at home, including Maori, Canadian and Gaelic stories. We are offering Hebridean cinema goers a festival packed with ideas, insight and ultimately positive solutions for climate action and social change.

"Our Film Festival aims to reach our island audiences in their community venues to support film events in rural locations and encourage the wonderful volunteer promoters in these venues to screen more films. We hope audiences across the islands enjoy this little gem of a festival and invite them to support their local venues as they are such a valuable part of our communities”.

The Hebrides International Film Festival is funded by Screen Scotland, Film Hub Scotland, the BFI FAN Network with support from the National Lottery, An Lanntair, Taigh Chearsabhagh, Eden Court Theatre, Ceolas, University of the West of Scotland, UistFilm and Rural Nations CIC.