Folk heroes at Filmhouse

Gathering celebrates storytelling and oral tradition

by Amber Wilkinson

The fifth edition of the Folk Film Gathering runs at Edinburgh Filmhouse this weekend, focusing on the theme of storytelling.

The festival offers a global showcase, including classics like Eric Blomberg's The White Reindeer, Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Decamaron and Charles Burnett's To Sleep With Anger, alongside rare gems like Alexander Dovzhenko's 1927 silent Zvenigora, which will be screened with a a newly commissioned score from Folklore Tapes, performed live for one performance only.

Festival director Jamie Chambers said: "One of the things I'm most excited about this year is the new score that Folklore Tapes have composed for Alexander Dovzhenko's silent masterpiece Zvenigora. I feel the film has a lot of resonance for Scotland, given it's depiction of how oral storytelling traditions allow the past to live within the present, dormant within the landscape.

"Folklore Tapes are ideally placed to explore the resonances between the Ukranian folk customs and history in the film, and their Scottish counterparts. Ian Humberstone, one of Folklore Tapes' core members is currently completing a PhD in folkloristics at the School of Scottish Studies and, more generally, Folklore Tapes are driven by a mission to 'bring the nation’s folk record to life, to rekindle interest in the treasure trove of traditional culture by finding new forms for its expression'. So yes, I can't wait to see where they go with the score.

Also receiving a new score is the work of avant-garde pioneer Enrico Cocozza, which will form the focal point of a Film Ceilidh. The event on Sunday will feature music by Alun Woodward (Lord Cut Glass), and stories and reminiscences from Cocozza’s friend University of Strathclyde Professor Joe Farrell.

Chambers added: "Our Film Ceilidh is becoming an annual event where we try to experiment with the place of film within the traditional arts, and this year we're going to be interspersing Cocozza's films with live music composed specially by Alun Woodward (Delgados, Lord Cut Glass, Chemikal Underground) and Stevie Jones (Sound of Yell), stories from Rico's friend Joe Farrell, and audience discussion led by the Scottish Storytelling Centre's Donald Smith."

Homegrown Gaelic-language film Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle also joins the line-up, alongside Rainer Sarnet's striking black and white Estonian tale November and Australian film Bedevil, the first film to be made by a female indigenous filmmaker (Tracey Moffatt) in the country.

Other highlights include a screening of the entire series of The Owl Service at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and a screening of a newly digitised version of Timothy Neat's Walk Me Home, which celebrates Scotland's connections with Europe.

Tickets are available from Filmhouse.

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