Tonight (Sunday February 28) is the premiere of what's being described as the first cinema documentary entirely in Scots Gaelic, Iorram (Boat Song) a lyrical portrait of the fishing community in the Outer Hebrides, past and present.
It is shown on-line tonight from 7pm at the Glasgow Film Festival - https://glasgowfilm.org/glasgow-film-festival/shows/boat-song-n-c-12
In the London-based Guardian newspaper, Libby Brooks writes: "A bob of seals wriggles through the turquoise waters facing a Hebridean beach as an unseen speaker from decades past explains how a mermaid once forecast a storm. Lobster creels plop off the side of a boat as a fisherman elsewhere catalogues the seasonal catches of skate, herring and “big ugly eels”. A jellyfish balloons and pulses through cloudy water as the words of the Scottish Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean are spoken: “The incomprehensible ocean fills with flood-tide and a thousand sails.” Watching Iorram (Boat Song) … blends archive recordings of voices, stories and songs from the past with visuals of contemporary island life. “When you’re watching a film, you’re expecting to have your eyes lead,” explains its director, Alastair Cole. “But we wanted to flip your perspective around. What we’re asking people with the archive is to let your ears lead as well.”
The film takes an immersive journey into the heart of a long-lasting community, blending observational footage shot over the past three years with archive sound recordings of stories and songs from the mid-20thcentury, set to an original score by acclaimed folk musician Aidan O’Rourke.
At the core of the film is an extraordinary trove of sound archive, recorded by pioneering Scottish ethnographers, who visited the Western Isles to capture the hardship and romance of life lived in precarious balance with the sea. These newly-restored recordings preserve an oral history of lore and legends, tall tales and tragedies, passed down through generations of Gaelic speakers reaching back hundreds of years.
This soundtrack from the past is accompanied by images of the working rhythm of the islands today, on land and on water. The tough realities of fishing and gutting in all weathers and seasons co-exist alongside superstitions and visions of mermaids, faerie folk and mysterious vanishing islands.
The first film score by Aidan O’Rourke (of multi-award-winning folk group Lau) weaves together sound and vision in an emotional and cinematic narrative of toil, laughter and loss.
The film offers whispers and shadows of people and tragic events long since gone, yet whose memory continues to shape life on the islands today.
The film has been produced by Bofa Productions and Tongue Tied Films, in association with MG ALBA and the support of the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.
The film's development also benefited from the support of Newcastle University, The University of Edinburgh, Film at Culture Lab, and the UK Economic and Social Research Council.