Caught by the River

Montrose LandxSea Film Festival

20th August 2023

The first ever Montrose LandxSea Film Festival, Scotland’s only climate-focused film festival, will run from 15 – 17 September.

‘Belle River’, dir. Guillaume Fournier, Samuel Matteau, Yannick Nolin

The festival is a new initiative highlighting the relationship between land and sea through the lens of environmental cinema. Across three packed days of documentary films from across the world, the festival will connect audiences with filmmakers, eco-thinkers, and green activists, encouraging thoughtful conversations about our planet and inspiring change through the power of film. The festival is based in Montrose, a culturally rich coastal town in North East Scotland renowned for its stunning landscapes. It is hosted at the historic Montrose Playhouse, a repurposed 1935 swimming pool now serving as a state-of-the-art community-owned cinema and arts venue.

The inaugural festival will open on 15 September with the UK premiere of Nishtha Jain’s The Golden Thread, a mesmerising new documentary delving into Bengal’s disappearing jute industry. The film beautifully captures the arduous journey of jute production, from riverside reed cutting to the rhythmic clatter of century-old looms in historical mills – machinery originally built in Dundee. LandxSea then closes in style on Sunday 17 September with the UK premiere of Mark Fletcher’s Patrick and the Whale, an awe-inspiring journey into the world of whales with marine videographer Patrick Dykstra. Prompted by a profound encounter with “Dolores”, a female sperm whale, Dykstra immerses himself in the pursuit of understanding these ocean giants whilst grappling with ethical questions surrounding his research and our relationship with the natural world as he delves deeper. LandxSea are delighted that Nishtha, Mark and Patrick will all be in attendance for the festival premieres.

‘Patrick and the Whale’, dir. Mark Fletcher

Other big screen highlights across the three days include:

Riverwoods, a stunning exploration of the intricate relationship between Scotland’s forests and its Atlantic salmon populations, narrated by Peter Capaldi. Shot over three years, the film underscores the decline of these iconic fish, once abundant in Scotland’s rivers, and the resultant consequences for the surrounding forest life.  The film’s director Peter Cairns will attend the screening for a Q&A. (16 September);

The North Drift, an investigative journey through European waters to unravel the mysterious paths of plastic waste. Intrigued by the inexplicable appearance of a German beer bottle on the remote Lofoten Islands in the Arctic Ocean, filmmaker Steffen Krones teams up with engineers and notable scientists to track its voyage in a story of how our environment interconnects us all. Steffen will attend the screening for a Q&A (16 September);

Into The Ice, a breathtaking trip into Greenland’s icy wilderness following three fearless glaciologists on a daring mission: to descend into constantly shifting crevasses and unearth crucial data about the melting of this massive ice expanse and its consequences for our oceans. An impressive debut feature from Lars Henrik Ostenfeld. (17 September);

The Oil Machine, an urgently timely dive into our complex and deeply entrenched dependency on oil, an industry that not only propels our vehicles but also drives our economy. Emma Davie’s eye-opening documentary examines the legacy of North Sea oil and gas exploration and its far-reaching implications. The screening will welcome James Marriott, a key contributor in the film and co-author of Crude Britannia. (17 September);

Two programmes of short films from Scottish and international filmmakers. Keep It Wild (16 September) will take audiences on a worldwide journey from the lush forests of Hawaii to remote Scottish Isles, with stories of indigenous leaders, marine scientists, renowned authors and dedicated volunteers as they strive to make a difference in their own corners of the world. Swim Stories (17 September) is a splash of refreshing short films that celebrate the thrill and tranquillity of wild swimming. With a distinctly female perspective, and tales spanning from the Scottish Highlands to distant shores, exploring the unique bond between women and open waters. Swimmer Becca Harvey — star of the Loch Insh-filmed The Ice Mile — will be in attendance.

‘The Ghost Rainforest’, dir. John Davies

Beyond film screenings, the festival will offer a range of live events including filmmaker coffee chats, an invigorating Montrose Beach Dook led by Becca Harvey and the Polar Bear Swimming Club on Sunday morning, and free activities in the Community Hub at the Montrose Playhouse, promising a fun and diverse festival experience for all. The Eco Fair, taking place outdoors on the Mall on Saturday will showcase local environmental initiatives, food and beverage stalls from sustainable business and the Moving Images solar-powered 8-seat caravan cinema showing a variety of eco shorts. For younger environmental champions, LandxSea have lined-up a selection of family-friendly films and fun, educational activities.

Tickets to all screenings are on sale now and available here.