Edinburgh Spanish film festival preview: A cinematic fiesta for everyone

This year’s edition of the festival is to be held online.

The seventh edition of the Edinburgh Spanish film festival (ESFF) is due to kick off on the 6th to 25th of October and will take place entirely online this year due to COVID-19 restrictions

The festival began in 2013 and aims to support Spanish and Latin American cinema as well as promote Spanish culture and language. Festival curator Marian A. Arechaga works as a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

The self-proclaimed film buff conceived the idea after she saw a gap in Edinburgh’s film calendar and a niche for a Hispanic film event. Marian discussed the different types of films festival attendees can expect

“I think we have a good variety of films,” she said. “We have five documentaries and eleven films. We also have a selection of short films and a selection of eleven monologues. We also have a section about an academic project about women in the 20th centaury who were forgotten.”

The festival has shown success in introducing Spanish cinema to a Scottish audience. Mariam says most audience members have been mostly Scottish or European in previous editions of the festival. She said “Only a small percentage of our audience are Spanish. Most are Scottish, French or Italian.”

Festival attendees can watch these films from the comfort of their own homes. People all over the UK will be able to rent films online for a time period of 48 hours from the time you hit play. The Q&As will also be taking place online.

Marian described the logistics “the Q&As are going to be online probably through zoom although we haven’t decided completely,” she said. “We will announce the time on social media because some directors are not living in the UK.”

As Marian said, we need to be entertained at the moment as the present and the future is a bit dark. This festival is sure to be a cinematic fiesta for everyone.

Graphics by Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival

Edinburgh Through Our Eyes

We asked the Edinburgh public to share photos they captured of the city and the results are breathtaking.

Is That a Wrap for Student Films?

Film students have been setback again with Scotland’s increased restrictions coming into effect the week filming was set to restart.

The beginning of the week was dedicated to rehearsals in open spaces, but with groups being limited to six people from two households due to a spike in cases of COVID 19, students may have to put their projects on hold.

Reporter Liam Rutherford spoke with film students to hear about their struggles.

BLM Usher Hall mural trail

Scottish Black and Asian artists are have come together to create powerful and outstanding artwork which can now be seen outside the Usher hall, and across Scotland. Taking a stand of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement

Photo series by Sorsha Caldwell.


King’s Theatre employees face uncertainty about the future after cuts were made due to lack of financial support from the Scottish Government

This afternoon Nicola Sturgeon announced that the culture secretary is looking into emergency funding for Capital Theatres a non-profit organization that owns both Kings Theatre and Festival Theatre in Edinburgh.

Due to their financial circumstances, they have only received 1.9% of their annual 12.9 million turnover in comparison to the 50% other art enterprises have received from the government.

The Kings Theatre shipped out 2.6 million ticket refunds and have experienced a 90% drop in revenue due to COVID-19. The theatre claims that they have not been refurbished since the theatre opened in 1906 and the redevelopment needs to happen soon, or they won’t have permission to host shows.

Mirren Wilson, tour guide and front of house staff member at Kings Theatre said “Front of house staff have lost their jobs.” Mirren was put on the furlough scheme but that ended in August. “I don’t know the legalities behind it but from what I understand in order to save the theatres they had to cut back their expenditures”

Mirren spoke about the uncertainty and emotions she experienced, “We got an email saying our contracts ending, It was just awful because I went into overdrive because I started panicking about money, the future and my flat.”

“It was pretty upsetting. It all ended quite abruptly.” The plan is to reopen in Spring 2021 but to make it through this period The Kings Theatre will require further support as they will only be able to reopen with a 20% seating capacity. The future for the venue and staff remains uncertain.


King’s Theatre. Photo By Michele Convertino

Sex Workers could be harmed by the Scottish Government’s consultation that aims to incriminate men who buy sex

At the beginning of the month, the government launched a consultation that led to a discussion amongst campaigners, who are against the proposition, due to the devastating impact of similar laws in Northern Ireland.

Elise Kennedy a full-service sex worker said “It’s basically given dangerous men a free pass to go and hurt sex workers and that’s pretty much what’s happened in Ireland since it got introduced.”

“They see sexual work as exploitation, they see prostitution as exploitation, they don’t see it as what could be a choice for women to make.”

This is the first step in moving towards the “Nordic model”. The term is used to describe a method that was implemented in Nordic countries. It means the person buying sex will be criminalized, while the sex worker will be supported to exit the industry.

The consultation paper states that sex work is a violation of human dignity and rights. The “Nordic Model” was put in place in Northern Ireland and has been widely disputed due to its consequences.

Elise mentioned the impact these changes would have in Scotland. She recounted the story from an Irish sex worker about her experience under the Nordic rule. “There’s a lot more robberies, there’s a lot more assaults, ugly mugs, which is like our database for like bad people. That goes off several times a day with like, really bad news.”


Sex workers can screen clients before they meet in person for safety reasons. Elise explained screening is non-existent under the Nordic rule because men are hesitant to give away details when they could be arrested for buying sex.

Elise spoke about the violence sex workers in Northern Ireland have faced.

“There’s a lot of girls they’ll have someone book them and they’ll see like four men get out of a car, and they’ll be worried because then they know where they live. They’ll be beaten up, they’ll be raped, knives will be held to their throat, while they get forced to take money off them and stuff like that. So, it’s really, really scary.”

The introduction of the model would make it difficult for sex workers who live with others. Elise used the example of a sex worker living with a partner, this could be classed as pimping or two sex workers who live together could be accused of running a brothel.

The Scottish government state they are trying to protect women from violence.

“I don’t think their agenda was to protect women and girls at all because if they looked at the facts and figures from Ireland, they would know for a fact this isn’t a way to do it. I think that they are just trying to regress us.” Elise said.

She discussed the ways in which the government could be helping sex workers who need an exit strategy from the industry.

“What needs to be looked at is affordable housing, mental health care, addiction health services. There are so many things that actually need to be repaired for this to work, but they’re just going, oh, just take out sex work altogether and there won’t be a problem. That’s not going to happen. It’s still going to exist.”

The one woman exhibition

Upon entering the exhibition, there is an intuitive sense of a vibrant, organically presented battle of a utopian or dystopian future awaiting humanity. What is rather standout is the discernible impact Ainsley holds on contemporary Scottish art today. The exhibition’s imposing selection of Ainsley’s work affirms her revolutionary mind, such as an innate value of Scotland’s water supply, the relationship between the microscopic and the macroscopic world and her duties as an artist. The compositions are astounding as Ainsley induces thought-provoking metaphors to make audiences question what is before their eyes and look to how it shapes our future.

The exhibition on display at The Scottish Arts Club is filled with a sense of cultural identity. It lifts the curtain on natural phenomena, the human body and conditioning. The exhibition offers a walk through Ainsley’s works from September 3rd until September 26th and offers a virtual tour of the collection via their website. The connection between Ainsley’s work and the pandemic holds a new appreciation for visitors, allowing a mental diversion from the chaos surrounding us.


‘Scotland’s Waterways’ PIC: The Scottish Arts Club

Ainsley places a significant focus on one of Scotland’s greatest virtues of water. Her capability to imagine the value of Scotland’s water increase in the future looks into envisaging water as if it were oil. Water is a resource taken for granted, whether it’s the breath-taking coast we are surrounded by or merely, the rainwater which maintains the sumptuous green hills of Glencoe. The collection features several pieces on Scotland’s waterways to reveal to audiences Ainsley’s desired splash with this sacred form of liquid gold – for Ainsley’s followers, this is anticipated as Ainsley was a passionate teacher of the Environmental Art programme at Glasgow School of Art From 1985-1991.



‘Interior Exterior’ PIC: The Scottish Arts Club

This next work beams cosmic energy presented through a wooden embroidery hoop for an extra dimension. Whilst on a trip to Australia, Ainsley gazed into the night sky and saw the Milky Way for the first time, simultaneously to slump down to grasp how tiny we are in relation to the universe. The outlines of the counties within Europe fill the globe, unmistakably Norway, Croatia and Italy can be recognised top centre. This celestial composition represents the bond between the microscopic and macroscopic masterfully by showcasing the universe is awash with stars and elevating the macroscopic world around us as a larger proportion, using the embroidery hoop—an eye-opening piece to the self-evolved.


‘Passion, Imagination, Conscience’ PIC: The Scottish Arts Club

However, what is captivating about this collection is the conceptual nature attributed to Ainsley’s work. Each piece has a story to explore, drawing in visitors hook, line and sinker. This particular work examines Ainsley’s role as an artist and her obligations. A rich grey and ocean blue-washed landscape, featuring a series of figures dipping into the water, looks over to an industrial scene in the top right. The symbolism of this work sees Ainsley glimpse back to artists before her, acknowledging their prior work and longing to go forwards by developing her own emotions, plunging into the water to convey her flowing transparency and cultural aspirations of an evolving society to all.

Justice for Shekou Bayou

In Edinburgh, various artists contributed towards a mural trail depicting digital artwork by Black Scottish and Asian artists in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. The mural trail depicts powerful messages and showcases politically charged artwork.

The mural outside of the Usher Hall in Edinburgh was created by Abigail Mills. Abigail is a tattoo artist from Kirkcaldy and draws heavy influence from Banksy. She is half Jamaican and a member of the LGBT community.

During the lockdown she struggled with insomnia due to the state of the world. “I didn’t sleep because I was crying.” This was because of the sadness she felt as minorities were lawlessly butchered. The Death of Shekou Bayou became well documented after the George Floyd protests erupted across the globe.

Wezi Mhura, an Edinburgh based creative producer organized the mural trail. She contacted Abigail and asked her to be part of this racially inspired artistic platform. Initially the mural was intended to be located in Kirkcaldy to honor Shekou Bayou.

She said Fife Council attempted to interfere the process which caused the artist to move the mural to Edinburgh


“Why compromise the Design? It screamed there was a massive cover up.” Abigail feels strongly about this because she is passionate.

Abigail described the pride she felt when Shekou’s family were able to witness the unveiling of the mural. “They were moved by it. I met his sister. It was emotional. She was there with her daughters.”

Having the opportunity to meet the family of Shekou helped Abigail feel she was part of something greater than herself. She is on the front lines of the Scottish BLM movement. “The main reason I did was for the family. For Shekou.”

She channeled her creative talent as a tattoo artist to create a memorable piece. “To turn pain into something creative is why I do this. A lot of creatives come from pain and sadness.” She turned her pain into something greater. Through her artwork she has created politically charged statement which she expresses through creative means.

The challenge provided Abbey with new motivation and inspiration during a difficult year. “If it moves people and they see things through your artwork. If they can see things that moves them in it, that’s what arts all about.” Abigail is more than just an artist, she is an activist and visionary. She paid homage to a man who was wrongfully executed by the police.

Shekou’s son Isaac and his mother travelled to Edinburgh to see your mural. She got in touch with Abigail to commemorate her. She told her “Isaac can see how much his dad was loved and people are still talking about him. He is not forgotten.

It is incredibly challenging being a minority. However, that should never hold us back “If your queer or black you should use that as a platform to push you forward. Imagine it like a bow and arrow. Getting pulled back, once you let go you get propelled forward.” Her candid remarks should inspire women, minorities and LGBT individuals across the globe. Just because your Instagram feed isn’t full of black squares anymore, doesn’t mean the fire of this movement has gone out. It is just beginning

Check out the Shades Tattoo Initiative for minority tattoo artists

Face mask fashion in Edinburgh

By Sorsha Caldwell

On July 10th, face coverings were made compulsory in shops across Scotland. For the fashion forward, the new rule was a chance to get creative and embrace this everyday necessity, incorporating it in to their style and look. In Edinburgh some opt for statement masks that reflect their style, while others have gone for the standard surgical mask.

Levant sweets: A Triumph In The Face of Adversity

The owner of Baklava shop Levant sweets describes what it’s been like starting a business during a pandemic.

A brand new baklava shop opened on Dalry road on the 14th of March. A day that for most business owners would be filled with excitement and hope quickly became filled with doubt for owner Kaswar Mostafa as the nation soon after went into lockdown. They’ve had some challenges to face but have been successful in the face of adversity and in introducing authentic middle eastern delicacies to Edinburgh.

Today, the business thrives. The company now exports their goods all over Europe and can be found on the desert menus of many different cafes and restaurants such as Time Out cafe in Glasgow. Kaswar discussed all the different cities his baklava can be found.

“We started shipping all the way to Austria, to Germany. We started supplying to shops in Dundee, Stirling, Glasgow, Belfast, even down south in England. We ship to London,” he said. They are also widely available to order for home delivery on takeaway apps such as just eat and uber eats making them one of the few desert establishments available on the apps. Levant sweets are always active on social media, posting lots of pictures on Facebook to increase their visibility online. Kaswar accredits much of their success to effective advertising strategies.

“We had offered to give free samples to customers and we did lots of advertising before opening,” he said. Business for Levant sweets, however, was not always so straight forward. They had to make a lot of adjustments soon after opening.

On opening day, the business was thriving, over 200 customers visited the shop eager to taste the homemade sweets but as lockdown started things got tricky. Kaswar described challenges they faced.

“A few days after opening the lockdown came, we had so much stock and we couldn’t leave it as it has a limited consuming date,” he said. The sit in services were also compromised, “We had a nice setting and lots of tables, we had to change all our plans to just sweets for takeaway,” he said.

With another lockdown potentially on the horizon, businesses face uncertainty once again, however, Kaswar is confident his business will continue to thrive despite the circumstances, “I’m not worried at all,” he said, “we don’t have any people working for us so we minimise the costs. We just have a few expenses like the rent and the utility bills. The government also gave us about a grand so that helped us a lot, especially at the beginning so that was really appreciated.”

During a time where businesses are collapsing, one thing feels certain. Kaswar and his business partner will continue to push through and adapt despite the circumstances and enrich the city with their authentic delicacies and provide Edinburgh with sweet Baklava through all the doom and gloom.

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