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‘Lights, Camera, Action!’

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

The St Andrews Film Festival

In 2017, a small group of student filmmakers created the Filmmakers’ Society of St Andrews. Co-founded by Boris Bosilkov and Mina Radovic, the society aimed to create a vibrant film-making culture in St Andrews. The next year, they took a new step towards this goal by establishing The St Andrews Film Festival (SAFF) with the University of St Andrews and Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA). Since its inception, SAFF has aimed to promote Scottish filmmakers, encourage emerging talent and spread a love of local and global cinema to a wider audience.

SAFF has greatly expanded over the years, growing from a small showcase of independent films to collaborating with big names in the industry. This year, the festival has partnered up with Raindance and the National Film and Television School. This year’s festival also boasts a wide and varied selection of short films from The Martini Shot starring John Cleese (Monty Python) and Matthew Modine (The Dark Knight and Full Metal Jacket) to projects from local filmmakers such as Martyn Robertson’s Ride the Wave.

However, the festival is not just a celebration of film, but an event committed to inspiring the next generation of filmmakers. Alongside independent films, SAFF also includes several masterclasses led by experts in their field. This year’s roster includes a ‘99 minute film school’ with Elliot Grove, the founder of the Raindance Film Festival as well as workshops on film directing and cinematography.

SAFF is also a significant student success story. From a small group of young aspiring filmmakers to an event with an international reach that SAFF is today, the festival has truly come a long way. Nonetheless, of the many successes that the festival has produced, masterclasses, and the festival’s educational legacy, seems to be the one Boris Bosilkov, the co-founder and director, is most proud of, explaining that, “in a region where filmmaking workshops are seldom seen, SAFF has curated a program that springs with opportunity, providing a vital stepping stone for emerging filmmakers and young audiences.”

However, independent films no longer have the same reach that they once did. In an industry that is increasingly seeing budgets tighten and funds largely directed towards action blockbusters, SAFF and film festivals like it have an increasingly important role to play in keeping these films alive. Indeed, Boris was a founding member of the Association of Independent Film Festivals (AIFF) which continues to help coordinate and share resources between festivals.

One question I was keen to ask Boris was ‘Why St Andrews?’ Surely an isolated town on the edge of Fife would be a more challenging location than Edinburgh or Dundee. However, Boris didn’t see it that way; SAFF is a celebration of perspective, a conduit for experiencing novel viewpoints. It extends to you the opportunity to embark on a journey of fresh insights. In essence, St Andrews, much like SAFF, symbolizes engagement in new ideas, the liberation of self-expression, and the profound act of sharing our human connection through the captivating art of storytelling.

Photo: St Andrews Film Festival

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