Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network
Jamie Chambers | 2013 | Scotland | 15
Featuring luminaries of the Scottish folk revival Norman Maclean, Sheila Stewart and Margaret Bennett, this lyrical cinematic fable explores the passing of songs from one generation to another. Ruadhan is an angry young man all too aware of changes in his community: there’s no more fish in the sea, the ceilidh house is shutting down, and the town is besieged by middle-class incomers’ intent on gentrification. Ruadhan stages a one man-stand: can he halt the unstoppable and save the soul of his community?
This screening was preceded by a live performance from folk-singer Margaret Bennett.
FOLK FILM GATHERING | 2017 SCREENINGS
KILLER OF SHEEP
Charles Burnett | 1978 | USA | 12
A remarkable testament of working class black experience in 70’s Los Angeles, Charles Burnett’s debut remains as relevant today as when it was first released. Stan works long hours in an inner-city slaughterhouse, quietly struggling to hold onto his humanity under the grinding weight of hard labour and family poverty. A work of stark poetry and quiet, excoriating anger, the film depicts the myriad perspectives and pressures upon an urban black community, with a score encompassing the length, breadth and richness of Afro-American music from Paul Robeson to Earth, Wind and Fire.
This screening was preceded by a live performance from Scottish-based Jamaican singer Brina.
THE HAPPY LANDS
Robert Rae | 2012 | Scotland | 12
Inspired by true stories from Fife, The Happy Lands follows the journey of a law-abiding community who become law-breakers in a heroic battle against the state. A powerful mix of documentary and drama, featuring a cast of non-actors from communities where the events took place, Theatre Workshop Scotland’s celebrated film documents the 1926 General Strike, in which miners’ unions and the communities around them led the nation against savage austerity cuts.
This screening was preceded by a live performance of Scots mining songs from Fiona Forbes.
Glauber Rocha | 1962 | Brazil | 15
Barrovento is an exhilarating, rhapsodic mix of Brazilian folk custom and political drama. In village of Xaréu (Kingfish) fishermen, the return of the trickster Firmino stirs up underlying tensions. Firmino convinces the fishermen to rebel against their propertied masters, but are his motives pure? And will young lovers Naina and Arua be able to shake off the superstitions of their community to find happiness and together survive the oncoming storm?
This screening was preceded by live Brazilian folk song from Sarah Campbell and Mario Caribe.
THE BRAVE DON'T CRY
Philip Leacock | 1952 | Scotland | PG
An underappreciated gem of Scottish cinema, The Brave Don’t Cry is a moving true story, based on the true life events in Ayrshire of the Knockshinnoch disaster in September 1950. When the walls of the local mine cave in, a dangerous rescue plan is mounted to rescue the 118 men trapped underground. Produced by John Grierson and featuring actors from the Glasgow Citizen’s Theatre, director Philip Leacock brings humour and humanity to a tale of survival, comradeship and community.
This screening was preceded by live performance of Scots mining songs from George Duff.
John Sayles | 1987 | USA | 15
Perhaps the greatest film ever made about the labor movement, John Sayles’ drama is a poetic and deeply humane treatment of the coal miners’ strike in 1920. Union man Joe Kenehan arrives in the small town of Matewan just as a major dispute kicks off between the Stone Mountain Coal company and its workers. Can Joe convince the local miners to stand together with the newly-arrived black workers and Italian immigrants (shipped in as cheap labour), or will the different communities tear each other apart? A profound, moving masterpiece of political cinema, Matewan remains a hugely relevant exploration of solidarity amongst communities under enormous pressure.
CHANSON D'AR MOR
Jean Epstein | 1934 | Brittany | PG
In 1935, the Scottish composer and clarsach player Heloise Russell-Ferguson traveled to Brittany to perform a set of Gaelic songs at this film’s premiere – the first Breton language film. Based on a Breton folk tale, Chanson is a lyrical and mythic portrayal of forbidden love within a fishing community. Join us as we recreate the event, with Scots Trad Awards Instrumentalist of the Year winner Rachel Newton, in celebration of one of Scotland’s most significant and unique female composers.
This screening was followed by a Q&A with Rachel and Edinburgh University’s Dr Stuart Eydmann on the significance of Russell-Ferguson’s contribution to Scotland’s musical culture, and womens’ experience in the Scottish traditional arts today.
Giuseppe De Santis | 1949 | Italy | 18
A potent, exhilarating brew of folk song, film noir, and Italian neorealism. On the run from the law, small-time thief Francesca hides amidst a group of female workers in the Po Valley rice fields. Despite the back-breaking work, Francesca finds a new sense of camaraderie and community amongst her co-workers long missing in her life. But will she be able to hold onto her new-found footing when her violent boyfriend Walter reappears?
This screening was preceded with a live performance of Italian folk song from Simone Caffari, and was followed by Q&A with Edinburgh University’s Pasquale Iannone on the film and director. Supported by the Italian Cultural Institute in honour of Giuseppe De Santis’ centenary.
ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE
Michael Radford | 1983 | Scotland | 15
Based on the novel by Jessie Kesson, this unsung classic of Scottish cinema explores the tensions in a remote rural community during World War II. A shy housewife constrained by a loveless marriage and a life of hard labour, Janie’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of three Italian prisoners of war, awakening in her a new sense of passion and possibility. Featuring a wealth of Scots and Italian folk song, Oscar-nominated Michael Radford’s debut feature is a sensitive portrayal of conflicted experience within a close-knit rural community.
This screening was preceded by folk songs from the East Coast of Scotland where the film was shot, sung by Steve Byrne (Malinky).
Amber Collective | Tyneside | 1997 | 12
Amber return to the Folk Film Gathering to present a powerful tribute to working class women in Tyneside in the aftermath of the Miners’ Strike. Like many women active during the strike, May has been left to clean up the mess. Struggling with a failed marriage, two unruly children, and the onset of hot flushes, May is just about holding things together when she meets Roy, the new manager of an open cast mine. Roy brings a degree of humour and warmth long missing in May’s life, but is he truly the answer to her problems?
This screening was preceded by a live performance from the MacTaggart Scott Loanhead Brass Band, and was followed by a Q&A with director Ellin Hare and cinematographer Peter Roberts.
LAND OF SONGS
Aldona Watts | 2015 | Lithuania/USA | PG
In a region of Lithuania known as 'Land of Songs', five sprightly elderly women have kept their village’s ancient folk singing tradition alive through decades of war, occupation, and desertion. Aldona Watts’ debut feature is a tender record of the lives of these remarkable women, and an eloquent testament to heritage and the universal language of folk music.
This screening was preceded by a live performance of Lithuanian and Polish work songs by Davno, and was followed by a Q&A with director Aldona Watts.
Selma Vilhunen | 2014 | Finland | 12
Oscar-nominated director Selma Vilhunen’s documentary about the passing on of Finnish oral traditions documents two years in the life of Jussi, the last-surviving Finnish rune singer, and his student Hanneriina, a young woman with a mysterious past. A lyrical rumination on roots and connections full of humour and mystery, Laulu is a moving testament to the healing power of song as a binding force between people and communities.
Tony Gatlif | 1993 | France | PG
A one-of-a-kind ‘folk musical’, Tony Gatlif’s cinematic masterpiece celebrates Romany music traditions from their roots in Rajasthan and Egypt to their new homes and journeys across Europe. Part road-movie, part rhapsodic community portrait, and all-parts Romany musical show-case, Latcho Drom is one of the great works of cinema: a true epic in its scope, generosity and humanity. Don’t miss it.
Preceded by a live performance of Scots Traveller songs from Jess Smith.
THE TREE OF LIBERTY
Timothy Neat | 1986 | Scotland | PG
Made in collaboration with Hamish Henderson, Timothy Neat’s passionate documentary explores the music of Robert Burns through Jean Redpath and Serge Hovey’s celebrated arrangements.
This screening was preceded by a live performance of Burns songs from Scott Murray, and was followed by a Q&A with director Timothy Neat, hosted by TradFest director Donald Smith.