Highlands & Islands

Bettyhill in Sutherland reels in mobile Screen Machine

Kung Fu Panda 2. Pic: DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures
Image caption Kung Fu Panda 2 will be among the three films to be shown in Bettyhill

A community on the far north coast has been successful in securing its first visit by Scotland's only mobile cinema in almost 10 years.

Ron Inglis, director of Regional Screen Scotland, said the Screen Machine would be visiting Bettyhill, in Sutherland, following public demand.

The 80-seater cinema will be showing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Senna.

It will stop off in Bettyhill later this month.

The Screen Machine, which has a cinema and seats set up inside a trailer pulled by a lorry tractor unit, has been touring the Highlands and Islands for several years.

Iain MacColl, driver and projectionist, said it would be the current version of the Screen Machine's first visit to Bettyhill.

He said: "We last visited almost a decade ago with the previous Screen Machine, before a cinema opened in Thurso.

"Now that it's closed, we've had e-mails and calls, plus requests from cinema-goers on trips to Durness almost 60 miles away from Bettyhill, for a return of the Screen Machine.

"It's a six hour round trip to Inverness for the cinema otherwise."

Recalling a previous visit to Bettyhill, he said: "We once had a performance in gales of up to 70mph and I considered cancelling the show - I decided it was safer to keep people inside the cinema.

"If that had been anywhere else it would have been a national emergency, but they're used to it."

Mr Inglis said the vehicle's crew always got a warm welcome in the far north.

He added: "As it can be tricky for residents to see the latest titles on the big screen, we try to bring the best of the new releases to them.

"We're also pleased to be adding Bettyhill to our schedule following public demand. If it's a success then we hope to be back again soon."

Earlier this year, people living in the north west Highlands were offered the chance to see a new film in the mobile cinema before its UK release as a "thank you" from the movie's makers.

Image caption Oscar winner Tilda Swinton used the Screen Machine in a 2009 project

Universal Pictures paid for the screenings in Achiltibuie of The Eagle which is set in Roman-era Britain and directed by Scotsman Kevin Macdonald.

Scenes were shot around Achiltibuie and Old Dornie, near Ullapool. Locals also had roles as extras.

In 2009, Oscar winner Tilda Swinton and film fans helped pull the Screen Machine over roads in the Highland.

The vehicle was hauled by muscle power for stages of a journey from Bridge of Orchy, in the west, to Nairn in the east.

The event called A Pilgrimage and organised by Swinton and Mark Cousins saw films shown in villages along the way.

Bettyhill was established in the early 19th Century ahead of the Sutherland clearances when people were moved off land to make way for large scale livestock production.

It was named after Elizabeth Levenson-Gower, the Countess of Sutherland.

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