Screen Machine to Take a Break from October 8

In the light of the very rapid rise in Covid-19 cases in South Uist, we have reluctantly decided to postpone our planned tour of the Screen Machine to the Western Isles, which was due to start on 8 October.

Given all the safety measures we have in place, it’s very unlikely that a visit by the Screen Machine would in any way contribute to the spread of the virus. Nonetheless, at a time when schools and businesses have been closed as a precaution, and when many people are being asked to self-isolate, it would be unreasonable to ask folk to come together for any kind of social activity.

Moreover, taking into account the fact that the NHS Highland area has seen a rise in total cases of over 11% in just one week, we have decided not to switch immediately to other, mainland locations, but instead to take a short break until the start of November at the earliest, to allow time for the longer term picture to become clearer.

It’s unfortunate that the Highlands and Islands region, which had seen so few cases throughout lockdown, should experience such a dramatic surge just when services like the Screen Machine are able to open up again, and we very much hope that it will be possible to resume service in the near future.

With best wishes
Robert Livingston
Director, Regional Screen Scotland



Customer Survey: How Did We Do?

For getting back on the road two weeks ago, we made various changes to our service e.g. only selling tickets online, having seats physically distanced by 2 metres and introducing a one-way system. We made some of these changes because the Scottish Government told all cinemas to, and others as a result of customer feedback. We are keen to know what you think of these changes, and so we have sent out brief surveys to all our customers who booked tickets in the locations we have visited so far: Tighnabruaich, Ardrishaig, Port Ellen and Jura. Many thanks to those of you who have responded. We can see that you seem to be happy with the changes, though approx. one-third have indicated that you might be reluctant to return to the Screen Machine due to the necessity to wear a face covering. Unfortunately, that is one of the changes we made to follow Scottish Government rules, and we can change it only as and when the Scottish Government tells us! Others commented that the booking process was not as it should have been – and we are optimistic that those problems have been ironed out.

If you have booked tickets for Tobermory or Bunesssan, then please look out for a survey coming to you. We’ll take your views on board, so that when Screen Machine is back on the road our service can be even better.

Photo credit: Taken by our operator David Redshaw. The moon over Craighouse, Jura, on Monday evening.



Small Screen Machine

Our weekly recommendations of great films on TV

For this week’s Top Pick, Angie has chosen Murder on the Orient Express, which is enjoying its TV premiere, while Fiona rounds our recommendations off with four other strong films.

Murder on the Orient Express (2017, 12A)
Channel 4, 8pm on Sunday 4 October
This did really well when we showed it in Screen Machine, so with it having its network premiere I thought you might like to see it again or watch it for the first time. Either way, it’ll be a tasty appetiser to the much anticipated, soon to be released, brimming with big names, catch it in Screen Machine in the New Year – Death on the Nile. Whodunnits are a favourite with Screen Machine audiences. Maybe you saw Knives Out this year with us, such a refreshing acting challenge for Daniel Craig. He looked like he enjoyed being in it as much as we did watching it. Still, I will always enjoy his portrayal of James Bond. Talking of which, his latest and final adventure as 007, No Time to Die, will also be coming to Screen Machine. Two exciting films for you to look forward to seeing in Screen Machine in due course. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our pick of films for this week to keep you entertained at home.


Back to the Future Part III (1990, PG)
Film4, 1.10pm on Saturday 3 October
Michael J Fox is back on top form in the final instalment of the time tinkering trilogy. When Doc Brown is stranded in 1885, Marty McFly must go back to the Wild West to rescue him. Much sharp-shooting and great set pieces ensure enjoyment for all.


Hanna (2011, 12)
Sony Movies, 9pm on Monday 5 October
Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander star in this thrillingly original film, from the director of Atonement. Hanna is a 16-year-old girl who has never left her Lapland home, but has been tutored in the skills of the assassin by her ex-CIA father. When she is sent to carry out her one intended mission, she finds she is pursued by a lethal enemy from her father’s past.


In Bruges (2008, 18)
Film4, 11pm on Wednesday 7 October
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson star as two mis-matched hit-men, laying low in the medieval city of Bruges, following a badly botched job. Slowly they learn the sinister reason why their boss has sent them there. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, who also wrote and directed…


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2018, 15)
Film4, 9pm on Thursday 8 October
Frances McDormand won an Oscar for her role as the desperate Mildred Hayes, trying to find out who murdered her daughter, partly by shaming the local sheriff into action. One of the most popular films we’ve shown on Screen Machine in recent years, and we can’t wait to bring you Frances’s new film, Nomadland, out in January 2021.



We’ll be back with more news next week. We hope that you all have a great week and stay well.