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White Settler horror film writer cries foul over referendum 'link'

THE writer of a film about an English couple who are terrorised by Scots after they move to the Borders has denied that it has anything to do with politics.

Scottish actress Pollyanna McIntosh stars in White Settlers about an English couple moving to the Scottish Borders
Scottish actress Pollyanna McIntosh stars in White Settlers about an English couple moving to the Scottish Borders

Iain Fenton has claimed that cinema chains are not screening it because of the referendum debate … although the only chain to comment to the Sunday Herald says it simply "had not made the cut".

The film, called White Settlers and featuring Scottish actress Pollyanna McIntosh, has been dubbed the "Scottish referendum horror" - although it was mostly filmed in England's Peak District. It debuted last night at FrightFest in London.

The film's title is a reference to the term sometimes used to describe well-off incomers in the 1990s.

However, Fenton, from Langholm, in Dumfriesshire, said it has "nothing to do with the referendum" and he believes the film's reputation has made people, including mainstream cinema chain bosses, "nervous" about it.

Although the team scored a coup by securing its market premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, currently only independent cinema houses, including The Cameo in Edinburgh, are choosing to screen the film after its general release in September.

Fenton said: "I think there was interest from some cinema chains prior to the recent coverage that it's had."

Fenton claimed the film was "a bit of fun" but did not think others viewed it this way. He said: "I suspect that people are nervous about it because of the subject matter. For me, that element - the whole Scottish/English thing - was never any more than something that exists in a whole load of films and music, whether it's Braveheart or Culloden or Trainspotting.

"Of course, by throwing the film into the context of the referendum, that, to a certain extent, becomes quite explosive to certain people."

A spokeswoman from Vue Cinemas said the reason the film was not chosen for nationwide screening was because it did not make the cut.

"Unfortunately, we are unable to show all new releases because on average 15 films are released each week, but only four to five of them can be chosen to be screened."

Representatives from mainstream chains Cineworld and Odeon declined to comment.

The film was shot in the north of England rather than Scotland because of budget and time pressures. Producer Rachel Richardson-Jones said the team was uneasy about that decision. She said: "We really wanted to shoot in Scotland. But because of budget constraints we didn't get to shoot as far north as we wanted.''

McIntosh, who has come out in support of independence in Scotland, said she found the "indyref horror" tag "a bit daft" but saw it as a good opportunity for gaining media coverage.

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