EXCLUSIVE: The Sands: International Film Festival of St Andrews, held in northern Scotland, has set the lineup for its second edition, running April 14 – 16.
Over the course of three days, the festival will host a series of official screenings and industry talks from filmmakers and artists such as director Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame, The Gray Man), who returns to St Andrews after supporting the inaugural edition in 2022.
Russo will be bringing with him what the festival has described as an “early sneak peek of a hotly anticipated project” that he has executive produced under his AGBO production outfit. The title of the pic will not be unveiled until the screening begins.
The festival has also set Russo as the host of a public discussion on gaming and contemporary storytelling with Epic Games Chief Creative Officer Donald Mustard, who has worked as a creator and director on titles such as Fortnite.
Russo’s AGBO is among the backers of Sands, alongside Screen Scotland and Deadline, which is the primary media sponsor.
Veteran casting director Margery Simkin is set to pass through St Andrews to host a talk on her lengthy career. Simkin’s credits include James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) and Avatar: The Way of Water (2022), Little Shop of Horrors (1986), and Top Gun (1986).
The list of films set to screen as part of the programme includes buzzy titles such as the 2023 Berlinale war drama Klondike by Maryna Er Gorbach, which was Ukraine’s pick for the 2023 International Feature Oscar race. The well-received 2022 Sundance documentary Calendar Girls will also screen as part of the festival.
Other Sands titles include Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men, starring John David Washington, Violet Du-Feng and Qing Zhao’s Hidden Letters, and the Academy Award-nominated Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. The screening of Marcel the Shell will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s producer Paul Mezey.
“Last year was an incredible experience for us, and we continue to build on that, adding layers of depth and meaning to the connections we can make between audiences, films, and film industry,” said Festival Director Ania Trzebiatowska.
“I am so pleased that we’ve found such a diverse range of excellent films to show and of the calibre of the very special guests we are bringing to St Andrews. I’m extremely excited that we’ll all be together making meaningful connections very soon.”
Russo added: “St Andrews is a town very close to my heart, and I’m proud to be a part of something that gives back to this incredibly welcoming community. I cannot wait to join you all in April not just as a filmmaker, but an audience member with a shared love for movies.”