Antonia Landi

Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Filmhouse goes mental: Psychiatry Ethics Film Festival scheduled for late November

In Edinburgh, Entertainment, Science on November 17, 2010 at 8:00 am

Stepthen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive will be screening as part of the Psychiatry Ethics Film Festival. Picture: Filmhouse

The Filmhouse will host a Psychiatry Ethics Film Festival from the 26th to 28th of this month. The film festival includes Oscar winning films such as ‘Girl, Interrupted’ featuring Angelina Jolie and Wynona Rider, as well as a set of documentaries that look at the history and procedures of mental health institutions in Britain.

The annual biomedical ethics film festival at the Filmhouse is coming up again and this year it will focus on mental health. It is organised in partnership with the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics and will see a range of panellists discuss ethical issues raised by the films in the series after each screening. The three day festival will show a variety of films, among which is a documentary about manic depression narrated by Stephen Fry, and the critically acclaimed film ‘The Eighth Day’, in which a young man with Down’s syndrome changes a workaholic’s life. In previous years topics have ranged from eugenics and transplantation through to human cloning.

Dr Calum MacKellar from the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics explained: “It’s important [to have a biomedical ethics film festival] because it’s always difficult for the general public to get interested in issues, especially in medical ethics, that seem quite difficult to understand.” He said that one of the SCHB’s jobs is to inform the public about difficult issues, so that they can then make informed decisions about laws and legislations. “So what we’ve tried to do” he said, “is present some of these issues, raise some of the topics that really need discussing through the use of a film and then have panellists catalyze [the issues] and have a discussion with the general public”.

Dr MacKellar also stated that it is not always easy to get the films they want. “With some of the films we are sort of blind, we know what’s in them, but we haven’t seen them because they are so difficult to get”, and sometimes things do not always work out. “Some films we couldn’t show – we had a transplantation film festival some years ago and there was a very good documentary that was showing the transplantation of organs on a child, but a few months after [filming was done] the child had died and the parents did not want this film to be shown ever again”.

With the Filmhouse’s biomedical ethics film festival going into its sixth year, it still remains the only one of its kind in the world.

Useful links:

The Filmhouse

Click here to go to the Psychiatry Ethics Film Festival

The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics

One day exhibition brings Orkney Venus to Edinburgh

In Arts and History, Edinburgh on November 13, 2010 at 9:00 am

The Orkney Venus is set to visit Edinburgh this Monday. Picture: BBC

A one day exhibition is taking place this Monday in Edinburgh, giving the public the chance to engage with Scotland’s cultural and historical heritage. The exhibition, entitled ‘My Home, My Place, My Scotland’, will showcase exhibits from The National Trust, Edinburgh World Heritage, Historic Scotland, The Heritage Lottery Fund and Architecture and Design Scotland and will bring Scotland’s oldest known representation of a human form, the Orkney Venus, to the capital.


The event, initiated by the minister of culture for Scotland Fiona Hyslop, is free and will offer a range of activities and exhibitions. The star of the exhibition will be the Orkney Venus, which Historic Scotland calls “one of the most significant finds in Scottish archaeology”. The figure, which was found last summer on the island of Westray, has already been seen by over 100000 people. Iona Matheson from Historic Scotland said: “[The exhibition] covers the whole spectrum of activities; we’ve got live stonemasonry demonstrations happening in the courtyard of the [Roxburghe] hotel, [as well as] costumed performers: we’ve got redcoats from the jacobite exhibition at the Scottish parliament there, and there will also be junior guides in costumes giving a presentation of the kind of work they’ve done.”

Matheson added: “The key thing for the minister was [to create] an opportunity to target people in Scotland and make them connect with their culture.”


Besides showcasing Scotland’s heritage, the exhibition will focus on the economic value it holds for Scotland, and give the public the opportunity to see all the developments over the last few years across the historical and cultural sector. When asked if the Scottish public knows enough about its cultural heritage, Matheson replies: “It probably varies from community to community. I think they do appreciate it, but I think sometimes they are not aware of the whole breadth of activities that’s out there for them to be enjoyed in front of their doorstep.” My Home, My Place, My Scotland will not only offer a range of activities for the whole family, it will also give the public the opportunity to see ‘behind the scenes’ of historical and cultural preservation.


Useful links:

Historic Scotland

The Orkney Venus

Expectations rise as Kinect is on the brink of release

In Entertainment on November 8, 2010 at 2:00 pm

The new XBOX games console and Kinect bundle. Picture: Microsoft

The XBOX Kinect is scheduled for release in the UK and Europe this Wednesday. As the eagerly anticipated motion sensor arrives in stores throughout the country, reactions in the gaming community remain mixed.

The XBOX Kinect is the highly anticipated motion sensor add-on by Microsoft, promising you on their website ‘hours of hands-free fun where you’re the controller’. It features a camera, microphone and a depth sensor, allowing the user to play videogames without the aid of a controller. Even before its release, the Kinect is proving to be very popular. At HMV Gamerbase in Edinburgh there will not be any Kinects available to buy on the day of release, as the store has already sold out of them for the next two deliveries. Graeme Loarridge, manager of the HMV Gamberbase stores in Edinburgh and Glasgow added: “Given that it is a £130 piece of kit [we are] well on target“. Gamestation and HMV Gamerbase had Kinects set up to try in their stores since Saturday. A member of staff at HMV Gamerbase said: “It is an expensive add-on so it’s good to try it before you buy it”.

While the Kinect is being marketed as a revolution in gaming, it is in fact the product of a recent trend that has swept through the gaming community. Consoles like the Wii and the new Playstation 3 motion sensor controller are designed to make videogames more accessible to casual gamers. While this has proven to be greatly successful, it has also created a divide between ‘real gamers’ and ‘casuals’. Christian Mugiraneze, a member of staff at Gamestation Edinburgh said: “Motion controllers will alienate real gamers”, adding that controllers are for ‘real’ gamers.

While the Kinect has attracted a lot of people, gamers remain sceptical. Mr Mugiraneze describes consoles that rely on motion sensors to be designed to “bridge the gap between ‘easy gamers’ and ‘hardcore gamers’” and Mr Loarridge explained: “Don’t forget that the best selling game of 2009 was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and the new Call of Duty: Black Ops is set to be the biggest selling game of 2010. Both these games use a traditional controller and adhere strongly to the standard action shooter format.” Whether the Kinect will become a ‘second Wii’ and will focus entirely on appealing to casual gamers or if it will actually innovate the way we play videogames can only be answered once games will have been released for it. But with exciting releases already in the pipelines finding this out is at the very least likely to be a lot of fun.

Useful links:



Click here to go to HMV Gamerbase

Official Kinect website

SSPCA urges ministers to revise firework laws

In Animal welfare on November 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Fireworks at Meadowbank Stadium. Picture: Antonia Landi

The SSPCA is campaigning to restrict current firework laws for the protection of pets and livestock. The animal welfare charity explains that the laws do not give pet owners enough notice to take precautionary measures when it comes to the welfare of their animals.


The SSPCA states on their website that “the noise from fireworks can cause panic” and that “domestic animals can run off if they are not kept safe inside and can be seriously injured in road accidents”. At the moment, the laws allow fireworks to be used in public on any day, between 7am and 11pm with even more leeway on special occasions, where the fireworks can go on until midnight on bonfire night, or even 1am on new year’s eve. Shona Robison, MSP for Dundee East, backs the SSPCA’s bid for stricter laws. “Irresponsible use of fireworks is a misery and a blight on the lives of the vast majority of the population and also of course it particularly affects pet owners. It is Anti-Social behaviour and can be highly dangerous. Although I think the situation has improved we must be vigilant on this issue” she states.

As the yearly fireworks display at the Meadowbank Stadium unfolds, many families are worried about their pets. Michael Roberts, 42, said: “Bonfire night is a highlight of the year, but the dog has to stay at home.” Dr Alistair Marks from The Oak Tree Veterinary Centre in Edinburgh advised: “Be matter of fact with the pets and don’t try to console an agitated animal.” He says the most important thing to remember is to keep animals at home. While the SSPCA is too late to change the firework laws for this year, their suggestions might bring changes to the laws in the next one.


Useful links:


Click here to see the SSPCA’s campaign for stricter fireworks laws

The Oak Tree Veterinary Centre in Edinburgh

%d bloggers like this: