Folk Film Gathering at TradFest 2016 – The World’s First Festival of Folk Cinema

Now entering its second year, Edinburgh’s Folk Film Gathering – the world’s first festival of folk cinema – is a celebration of the myriad ways in which world cinema has engaged with folk culture at different points in space and time.

Part of TradFest Edinburgh, the festival’s 2016 edition brings together a series of rare, celebrated international films, and looks in particular at the work of Scottish and British filmmakers alongside films from Italy, Spain and Ethiopia, providing chances to see rare gems such as Venus Peter in 35mm and the newly restored Shepherds of Berneray. It also hosts the Scottish premiere of Sundance hit Songs My Brothers Taught Me, and will welcome guests such as Vashti Bunyan, the Amber Collective and Christopher Young, celebrated producer of Seachd and Bannan.

Each screening will be introduced by tales from one of TradFest’s traditional Scottish storytellers to explore the connections between Scottish oral tradition and storytelling on the big screen. See below for more details.

2016 Programme

This year, the Gathering’s programme focuses on a central theme of animals: sheep, goats, horses, cows, lions, whales and herring, and the stories that bind them to communities. From Bradford to Sardinia, the festival continues to explore the myriad ways in which world cinema has engaged with folk culture – as living tradition, as people’s history and as working class culture and experience.

The programme also explores children’s perspectives (Venus Peter, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, Padre Padrone, Song of the Sea, Selfish Giant), storytelling (The Summer Walkers, Venus Peter, Song of the Sea) and issues of land reform (Las Treasure, Harvest: 3000 Years).

Lost Treasure, Thu 28 Apr, 6.30pm (1hr 30 inc. Q&A)

In 1956 a Glasgow-based socialist filmmaking collective embarked on an ambitious project confronting Scotland’s rural depopulation crisis. A Lost Treasure is a beautifully atmospheric audio-visual performance responding to the abandoned film. With storyteller Douglas Mackay. Read more.

Shepherds of Berneray, Fri 29 Apr, 6.05pm (56mins + 1hr 10)

A rare opportunity to see this newly restored poetic documentary about the lives of a community of shepherds in the Outer Hebrides. With a painterly sense of light, and an ear for Hebridean song and story traditions, the film paints a sincere portrait of a community on the verge of change. With storyteller John Barrington. Read more.

The Selfish Giant, Sat 30 Apr, 6.05pm (1hr 30 + 20mins)

Developed from documentary work exploring Bradford’s scrap metal trade, this contemporary masterpiece of British cinema portrays the mixed fortunes of Arbor and Swifty, two energetic young boys who become involved in the scrap business. With storyteller Amanda Edmiston. Read more.

Eden Valley, Sun 1 May, 5.45pm (1hr 40 + 55mins)

Hoggy’s life is turned upside down when his estranged son Billy arrives needing a place to stay. As Billy once again becomes part of Hoggy’s life, their shared fortunes amidst the County Durham trotting community are gradually put to the test. With storyteller Lindsey Gibb. Read more.

Vacas (Cows), Mon 2 May, 5.55pm (1hr 30 + 25mins)

An act of wartime cowardice comes to haunt three generations of Basque country farmers. Vacas chronicles the bitter feud emerging between two neighbouring families after Carmelo is killed because of his neighbour Manuel’s cowardice. With storyteller Alette Willis. Read more.

The Summer Walkers / Journey to a Kingdom, Tue 3 May, 8pm (2hr 30) – at Scottish Storytelling Centre

One of Timothy Neat’s numerous collaborations with Hamish Henderson, Summer Walkers (1976), documents the timeless culture of Scottish travellers. His later film, Journey to a Kingdom (1992), joins Hamish Henderson on a playful road trip to the North East of Scotland, provoking considerable thought, laughter and insight along the way. With storyteller Donald Smith. Read more.

La Chasse au lion à l’arc (Lion Hunters), Thu 5 May, 6.10pm (1hr 28 + 25mins)

Using collaborative working methods and in conversation with Songhoy communities, celebrated documentary maker Jean Rouch documents the journey of traditional gow lion hunters in Niger to confront “the American”: a ferocious lion killing their livestock. With storyteller Douglas Mackay. Read more.

Padre Padrone, Fri 6 May, 5.45pm (1hr 53 + 25mins)

A magical realist account of the life of a young Sardinian shepherd, the film tells the story of Gavino, an intense young man in the shadow of his overbearing father who is taken out of school to look after his family’s flock of goats in the Sardinian mountains. With storyteller John Barrington. Read more.

Song of the Sea, Sat 7 May, 12.45pm (1hr 34 + 25mins)

10-year-old Ben can’t help but resent little sister Saoirse when their mother mysteriously disappears after she is born. But when Ben discovers Saoirse is actually a selkie, he finds himself in a race against time to set aside his broken heart and bring their family together again. With storyteller Bea Ferguson. Read more.

Venus Peter, Sun 8 May, 8.30pm (1hr 34 + 55mins)

Growing up in 40s Stromness amongst a family of fishermen, Peter’s life is deeply influenced by dreams, his grandparents’ folk tales and his own powerful imagination. Who is the mysterious woman Peter sees down by the shore, and will he ever know the truth about why his father disappeared? With storyteller Amanda Edmiston. Read more.

Tempus de Baristas, Tue 10 May, 5.50pm (1hr 40 + 25mins)

David MacDougall’s poetic ethnography portrays the different experiences of Franchiscu (62), his son Pietro (17) and their friend Miminu (43) who – although being born 20 years apart – are united by ties of family, friendship and common experience. Will schoolboy Pietro continue the way of life that has been in his family for generations? With storyteller John Barrington. Read more.

Harvest 3000 Years, Wed 11 May, 5.40pm (2hrs 30)

A striking work of Ethiopian cinema fusing traditional oral culture with cinematic poetry and a classic of the socialist, anti-imperialist Third Cinema movement. Discover the story of a family of peasants rising up against their oppressive landlord, situated against the day-to-day rhythms of work and communal storytelling. Read more.

Songs My Brothers Taught Me, Thu 12 May, 6pm (1hr 38 + 25mins)

Chloe Zhao’s debut is a considered collaboration with Native American residents living on the South Dakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Shot entirely on location, featuring a remarkable cast of non-actors, this is a moving testament to community dignity and the ties that bind. With storyteller Douglas Mackay. Read more.

The Folk Film Gathering is a partnership between Transgressive North, Edinburgh Filmhouse and TradFest.