taking our culture forward

Manx film at prestigious Celtic Media Festival

Wed, 16 Jun 2021

A Manx film has won a place in one of the most important media festivals in the British Isles.

Island Utopias,’ a film innovatively exploring the possibility of alternative futures in the Isle of Man, is amongst the official nominations for the Celtic Media Festival in September.

The film has a place at the prestigious event alongside productions from the national broadcasters of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and others, including Sky Arts, BBC Alba, S4C, TG4 and France 3 Bretagne, which makes it extra special to have been nominated.

The 71-minute-long film produced by Culture Vannin and directed by Sarah Mercer is in the Arts category of the festival which has been running for over 40 years.

The film was created as an innovative response after Covid19 halted previous plans made by Sarah Mercer whilst on a year-long graduate intern position at Culture Vannin.

Thinking quickly, Island Utopias was born and the community rallied around the project, offering their time for interviews and their artistic creativity to bring the ideas to life.

The pressures of the pandemic forced everyone to think seriously about the future. It opened up fertile ground for Sarah to explore people's perceptions of our collective future as we face several existential crises, from the pandemic to looming climate and ecological collapse.

The resulting 12-part film was a journey through art, music and film, imagining what a better future might look like. It is the combination of interviews with the public carried out during Covid19 lockdown, layered with visuals of artists creating works inspired by these voice collages, accompanied by newly-composed piano pieces complementing the themes and ideas of each of the 12 parts.

The Celtic Media Festival website notes that, “Together they form a mesmerising immersive experience which transports us into new spaces of thought and seeing, allowing us to re-imagine what an ideal future for the Isle of Man might look like.”

Artists featured in the film include: Karolina Pawlowska; Hannah Radcliffe; Rebecca Odessa; Will Morris; Daniel Price; Bethany White; Ellie Baker; Anna Clucas; Betty Laurincova; Colette Davies; Billy Redgrave; and Janet Lees.

The original piano score underpinning the film was composed and performed by Matthew Warren, and skilfully weaves in traditional Manx melodies.

The film was given its premiere at a sell-out event at the Erin Arts Centre in September of last year and it has been available on the Culture Vannin website since then.

Chris Thomas MHK, Chair of Culture Vannin says:

“We are enormously proud of this film, which is one of the most daringly innovative and successful of any art films made in the Isle of Man. That it sits alongside productions from the likes of Sky Arts or the BBC only confirms the importance and relevance of Manx productions like this on the international stage.”

The Celtic Media Festival is an annual three-day event that promotes the cultures of the Celtic nations and regions in media. It combines a major conference of seminars and master classes with presentation of the coveted prizes in an international competition across all the main content genres in TV, radio, film and digital media.

‘Island Utopias’ can be watched on the Culture Vannin website or YouTube.