EIFF 2015: Iona director Scott Graham – 'the festival is where I learned the value of films and filmmaking'

EIFF 2015: Closing Gala – Iona

Director Scott Graham discusses his film, which closes the Edinburgh International Film Festival

The Closing Gala at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival will be Iona, the second feature film from Scottish filmmaker Scott Graham, starring Ruth Negga (Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD) and Douglas Henshall (Shetland, Primeval). We caught up with Graham ahead of the festival to find out more.

What happens in Iona?
It's about a young woman (Negga) who returns to the island of her birth so that she and her teenage son can hide from a crime they've committed but her reasons for leaving the island as a teenager come back to haunt her. So it's about old wounds, old pain. In many ways Iona picks the one place she can't hide.

You filmed on location in Iona – it must have been amazing filming in such a beautiful location.
It was but it can be hard to soak in all that the island has to offer when you're filming. In the right frame of mind the island can have a profound effect on you. I'd like to go back now the film is finished and just wander about, camp, do all the things I did when I was a kid. I think a few of us will be doing that. One amazing thing about shooting there is the incredible support we got from the islanders. We couldn't have made the film without them.

Does it feel good to be screening this at Edinburgh, where Shell and Native Son screened too? What does the festival mean to you?
Edinburgh was my home when I was trying to become a filmmaker and the festival is where I learned the value of films and filmmaking, that it's something worthwhile, important even. I feel like I've made a connection with the people at the festival already though this film which is huge for me because so few have seen it. It's very very exciting.

There's a strong empahsis on Scottish film at this year's festival - what's it like being a Scottish filmmaker right now?
It's pretty exciting being Scottish – full-stop – at the moment. I think it ties in with that sense of having a voice and trying to be heard, that's something you're always struggling with as a filmmaker. You've got to have something to say that's worth listening to of course, that's another thing filmmakers struggle with, but right now it feels like a lot of us are speaking and being heard and that's a wonderful thing to be part of.

Iona, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Sun 28 Jun, 5pm

Edinburgh International Film Festival

The oldest continually running film festival in the world, the EIFF draws on its prestige to consistently present abundant programmes of new features, documentaries, retrospectives, shorts, panel discussions and educational workshops, with a few high profile premieres thrown in for good measure.


  • 3 stars
  • 2015
  • UK
  • Directed by: Scott Graham
  • Cast: Ruth Negga, Douglas Henshall, Tom Brooke

After a sudden crime, Iona (Negga) and her son (Gallagher) flee Glasgow and seek shelter on the island of her birth, which shares her name. Negga is captivating, with an excellent supporting cast, but the story begins weakly and culminates in melodrama. Messy but promising.