Local Hero Festival closes early as Boycott Scandal is uncovered at Visit Scotland, Visit Aberdeen and Screen Scotland.
The ambitious festival was planned in just 5 weeks, with some 14 headliner events and an International Film Festival as part of the offering. Banff Resident and Festival Director, Andrew Mellon, 54 along with festival co-founder Nick Bradley of Bradley Creative in London discovered that two years of planning by Aberdeenshire Council to mark the 40th Anniversary were not materialising into much due fact that the Council’s Film Office Marie Archer, was off sick for 6 months in the lead up to the Film’s Anniversary, throwing everyone’s plan to disarray. Mellon and Bradley felt they needed to seize the moment
Mellon invested £20,000 personally into the festival to help try revitalise Banff and Macduffs failing economy, with some 20 empty retail property’s and more business slated to close, Mellon’s idea was to create a Trust with proceeds from the festival and buy the Old RBS Bank Building, its current HQ and the Former M and Co Building next door, some 14,000 sq ft and turn them into social enterprises, as well as establishing a Trust for the Festival, which a festival was hoped would become an annual event. Alas this has now all be scrapped, as the festival closes 8 days early, with Mellon facing a £25,000 loss on top of his original £20,000 seed cash. Local residents have stayed away with just 4% attending the exhibition or a festival event, but the festival has attracted some 2,000 out of town visitors to the festival. All tickets for the 14 cancelled events are being refunded.
Mellon has uncovered that Visit Scotland, Visit Aberdeen and Screen Scotland have also boycotted the festival. Initially great enthusiasm from all about the festival that would bring something new and exciting and different to Aberdeenshire. Mellon discovered that someone had taken umbridge and a listing for the festival was removed from Visit Aberdeen website and Visit Scotland Press Team ignored the press releases for some incredible events, like the World Exclusive given by Rock Legend Mark Knopfler to the festival perform 6 pieces of music from Local Hero – The Musical score along with the music soundtrack of the film at a concert series at the festival. A one of kind £25K Aurora Borealis Immersive Light Show created just for the festival was set to Mark Knopfler’s “Going Home” Anthem.
David Greig, who co-wrote the musical, which ran for 12 weeks at Edinburgh’s Lyceum theatre in 2019, said: “It’s a pretty big thing because Mark doesn’t let people do covers of his songs. He loves the film, and he felt that it was nice to be able to contribute to celebrations of it in some way.
In a phone call with the BBC Newsroom in Aberdeen, Mellon was shocked to hear that nothing in the festival was news worthy, an International Film Festival and a one of kind Immersive Aurora Borealis costing £25K commissioned for the festival could not be given any coverage. The festival has also faced a number of bans on its Social Media platforms with anonymous complaints about the platforms content, resulting in a number of week long bans with no social media coverage for a live festival.
Mellon has challenged Visit Scotland, Visit Aberdeen and Screen Scotland with open letters and asked for filmed interviews with the various CEO’s and has received responses that it was a technical error, from both Visit Aberdeen and Visit Scotland which Mellon can prove is untrue. Screen Scotland has remained silent after an interview request for the documentary makers to speak with Isobel Davis its CEO, Mellon asks, “How can an International Film Festival showing some 120 screening’s of Classic Scottish Movies and some Hollywood Blockbuster be ignored, when Cinemas are closing all over the Country? Mellon is looking for answers from the various CEO’s
5 weeks ago a documentary maker was brought on board to document the “festival in 5 weeks” during filming they have uncovered a much bigger story locally of systemic corruption, fraud and extortion along with another story of Xenophobia, Intimidation and a campaign of hatred, all documented by the documentary maker, Mellon said “We have a very different story in this documentary to share with World”
Mellon is not deterred, as one of Britain’s top private chefs he is off to cook for a few Months to help cover the festival losses and the documentary has interest from both US Streaming service and UK broadcasters for a new documentary series.
Local Hero Festival closes on Saturday 20th May at 5pm, the exhibition and the gallery are open from 9am to 5pm Friday 19th May and Saturday 20th May 2023.