The man behind the music of Holywood blockbusters such as Forrest Gump, The Bodyguard and Predator will visit Scotland when Sands: International Film Festival of St Andrews returns this year.  

Two-Time Academy Award Nominated Composer Alan Silvestri host a talk about his career at the University of St Andrews’ when the celebration of cinema gets underway in April.  

Mr Silvestri is one of several special guests confirmed to be making an appearance at this year’s Sand festival, with the Fife red carpet also welcoming Casting Director Debra Zane, and Record-Breaking Director Joe Russo. 

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In his decades-long career, he has worked on more than 100 films including Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future, Polar Express, Ready Player One, Stuart Little, Night at the Museum and dozens more. 

Debra Zane’s credits include The Hunger Games franchise, Ocean’s Eleven, Catch Me if You Can and American Beauty. Zane was actively involved in the effort to establish the newly created Oscar for Best Achievement in Casting. 

The Herald: Two-Time Academy Award Nominated Composer Alan SilvestriTwo-Time Academy Award Nominated Composer Alan Silvestri (Image: Sands)

Renowned Hollywood director Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame, The Gray Man) will also return to St Andrews for this year’s edition, as his independent studio AGBO helped found the festival.  

Russo is expected to participate in a special conversation and host a mentoring session with local filmmakers. 

"AGBO is delighted to once again co-sponsor this year's festival. Sands serves as a hub where the convergence of arts, culture, and technology takes place, all within the esteemed backdrop of St Andrews - one of the world's premier universities," he said.   

Organisers say Sands will present an exciting and diverse international showcase of contemporary and classic cinema alongside a range of supporting events.  

Festival Director Ania Trzebiatowska, a former Artistic Director of the Off Camera Film Festival in Krakow for 12 years and Programmer of the Sundance Film Festival since 2019, is in charge of this year’s screenings.

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She said: Trzebiatowska said, “I am so looking forward to welcoming our audiences and guests back to Sands. We are incredibly proud that our festival can be boutique in scale, but consistently ambitious. Which means that we get to showcase impactful work and prompt truly meaningful conversations.  

“Our aim is to lean into the role that artists can play in uniting and inspiring us, as well as reminding us that visual storytelling is one of the greatest tools for creating the well-needed empathy, often lacking in today’s complicated world.” 

Sands celebrates the early work of established filmmakers by shining a spotlight on their first and second features, staging unique opportunities for these filmmakers to reflect on this key period in their creative life and creating a platform for different generations of artists to connect, share skills, and discuss the inspirations and challenges they have encountered. 

Sands also aims to provoke discussion about screen cultures, help build filmmaking skills and capacity in Scotland, and create a forum for local and international industry connections. 

The festival is produced by the Byre Theatre, University of St Andrews, with the University’s Department of Film Studies also a key partner.