University of St Andrews: Hollywood director backs new St Andrews International Film Festival

Today the Sands: International Film Festival of St Andrews announced its inaugural year with keynote participation from legendary Hollywood film director, Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame, The Gray Man), who is backing the new annual international film festival at the University of St Andrews Byre Theatre.

A significant new event in Scotland’s cultural calendar, Sands: International Film Festival of St Andrews will begin as a three-day event presenting an exciting and diverse international showcase of contemporary and classic cinema alongside a range of supporting events. The inaugural festival will take place from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 March 2022 in the historic University town of St Andrews.

Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo, who will be participating in mentoring sessions for young filmmakers 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 truly special festival that will become a ‘must attend’ on the international film scene.”

Sands, produced by the Byre Theatre with the University’s Department of Film Studies as a key partner, will feature filmmakers who are making an impact, changing perspectives, and inspiring audiences around the world.
The first edition will take as its central theme ‘Beginnings’, presenting a selection of exciting new fiction and non-fiction work by promising filmmakers who are at the start of their careers.

Continuing the ‘Beginnings’ theme, Sands will also feature screenings of debut films by established directors alongside conversations with them about their early careers, creating a platform for different generations of artists to connect, exchange ideas, share skills, and discuss the inspirations and challenges they have encountered.

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.

Sands is supported by independent film and television production company AGBO; Ed, Virginia and Declan Murphy; and other generous donors.

The Festival will be curated by newly-appointed Festival Director Ania Trzebiatowska, who brings a wealth of experience from the film industry and film festivals including the Sundance Film Festival where she is a programmer, and Off Camera Film Festival in Krakow where she was Artistic Director for 12 years.

Ania’s vision will combine film enjoyment with education to create an exciting, inclusive and forward-thinking event, harnessing and nurturing connections between people within the University, in St Andrews, across Scotland and internationally.

Welcoming the appointment, University Vice-Principal (Collections, Music and Digital Content) Professor Katie Stevenson, said: “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 said: “I am honoured to be trusted with creating an exciting new event in beautiful and historic 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.”

The Directors of the Byre Theatre, Kally Lloyd-Jones and Jessica Richards, are thrilled that the Byre is the home of the new Festival, in partnership with the University’s Department of Film Studies, building on the Byre’s reputation as a centre of artistic excellence.

Sands: International Film Festival of St Andrews will be an important cornerstone of the theatre’s programme, which integrates the teaching and research interests of the University with community engagement and the growth of its public arts programme.