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New International Film Festival Launched With Hollywood Director Joe Russo’s Backing

Sands: International Film Festival of St Andrews is being produced by the Byre Theatre with the University's Department of Film Studies as a key partner. Legend- ary Hollywood film director Joe Russo is backing this new annual festival. The first edition will take “Beginnings” as its central theme and will run from 25 – 27 March 2022. It will feature filmmakers making an impact, changing perspectives and inspiring audiences around the world. Director of Avengers: Endgame, Joe Russo, who will be taking part in mentoring sessions at the festival, said, "I'm incredibly excited about this new adventure in film, taking place in one of the most beautiful small towns in the world. The University of St Andrews is all about excellence, and I know that this will be a tru- ly special festival that will become a 'must attend' on the international film scene." "The intention is to launch a bona fide film festival that supports emerging filmmakers and new voices in filmmaking and uses the backdrop and the infra- structure of the university to support it." He added, “Focusing on emerging talent and making sure we’re targeting unique voices that have something powerful and important to say, that need to be supported by an institution as prestigious as St Andrews, that will be our niche.” The festival will be curated by newly-appointed Festival Director, Ania Tr- zebiatowska, who is experienced in the film industry and film festivals, including the Off Camera Film Festival, where she was Artistic Director for 12 years. Ac- cording to the Sands, Trzebiatowska was inspired by the roots of the University of St Andrews to come up with the vision for Sands. Her focus was creating an audi- ence-friendly festival that introduces new filmmaking voices to local communities. Continuing the “Beginnings” theme, this three-day event will showcase a range of international contemporary and classic cinema, presenting a selection of work by promising filmmakers from around the world who just stepped into the film industry, as well as debut works by well-known directors. Sands aims to create an accessible and inclusive arena where artists from different generations exchange ideas, inspiration, and the obstacles which they all encountered when they first stepped into the industry. Sands also aims to provoke discussion about screen cultures, help build filmmaking skills and capacity in Scotland, and create a forum for local and international industry connections. University Vice-Principal (Collections, Music, Digital Content), Professor Katie Stevenson, welcomed Ania, saying, “The University is thrilled to welcome Ania Trzebiatowska as the first Festival Director of Sands: International Film Festival of St Andrews. The scope of Ania’s experience and her extraordinary eye for film curation will enable her to create a unique and important event that will be wonderful to attend and will develop and accelerate filmmaking skills in Scotland.” Ania Trzebiatowska also spoke out about this appointment, saying, “I am honoured to be trusted with creating an exciting new event in beautiful and histor- ic St Andrews. This prestigious university is a superb place to celebrate diverse, original voices in cinema and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to build a film festival open to all, which I hope will be a welcome addition to the impressive landscape of Scottish and international film events.” Her vision for Sands is to create a forward-thinking event, which will combine education with community engagement and the growth of its public art programme, nurturing connections between people within the University, in St Andrews, and across the world. The support team will begin putting together the festival launch slate, and further details of screenings and events will be released in the coming months.

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