folk film gathering poster

17 June – 1 July, 2022

The World’s first festival of folk cinema will run at Filmhouse Edinburgh, Scottish Storytelling Centre and online.

Highlights include the Scottish premiere of Edinburgh artist and musician Hanna Tuulikki’s new film exploring Selkie legends Seals’kin, a celebration of one of Scotland’s most distinctive filmmakers Gerda Stevenson and classic films seen on the big screen for the first time in decades including a free screening of John McGrath’s adaptation of Mairi Mhor

The festival will also showcase Films of Action, a series of films made within the Fife Coalfields communities during the lockdown, and welcome singers and musicians including Margaret Bennett, Deirdre Graham, Jimmy Hutchison and the celebrated Scots traveller singer Jess Smith.

The eighth annual Folk Film Gathering has announced the full programme for its 2022 festival.

Taking place at Filmhouse and Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh, as well as online, the festival celebrates a return to in-person events for the first time since the pandemic with a programme focused on the theme of re-engaging locally, and coming-together again to re-establish sources of community strength.

For the first time, the festival’s programme will be made up of a majority of Scottish-made films, introduced by Scottish musicians and storytellers, as part of a broad celebration of community resilience.

In keeping with the theme of community celebration and the aim of opening up access to events for as many as possible, key events will be free, or pay-what-you-can.

Highlights Across the Programme

Mairi Mhor (1994)

mairi mhor

A powerful tribute to the Isle of Skye’s 19th century warrior poet, Mary McPherson, Big Mary of the Songs,  shot on Skye, written by John McGrath and featuring the unmistakable voice of Catriona-Anna Nic a’ Phi (Catherine-Ann MacPhee).  The film documents Mairi Mhor’s passionate resistance to the displacement of Scottish communities during the Highland Clearances through songs that remain resonant to this day. This rare screening is  introduced by a mini-concert of Skye songs from Deirdre Graham. Tickets are free. (17 June, Filmhouse)

Celebrating the Films of Gerda Stevenson

gerda stevenson

Myrtle26, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

An evening celebrating the films of one of Scotland’s most distinctive filmmakers, Gerda Stevenson. In An Ìobairt, dormant echoes of the past within the Scottish landscape re-emerge to haunt the present, whilst The Storm Watchers (an innovative adaptation of George Mackay Brown’s play, shot during lockdown) presents the voices and perspectives of a series of women waiting upon the shore for their seafaring husbands to return. The films will be introduced with a mini-concert of songs Margaret Bennett (who also features in An Ìobairt) and will be followed by a Q&A with Gerda Stevenson. Presented with the kind support of Bòrd na Gàidhlig. (18 June, Filmhouse)

Margaret Tait Award-winner Margaret Salmon’s new film Icarus (After Amelia)

Filmed during subsequent Covid lockdowns in and around Govan and beautifully captured on 35mm. This documentary explores the often invisible work and draws upon a diverse chorus of experiences, creating a thoughtful investigation of female labour, and a tribute to the role played by women across Glasgow during the pandemic. The film will be introduced with a short set of live music from Shea Martin and Jessie Moroney and will be followed by a Q&A with Margaret Salmon. (19 June, Filmhouse)

Donald Smith’s exploration of the selkies

ceilidh- selkie stories

A unique event hosted by the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s Donald Smith exploring Scotland’s rich folklore of the seal people – selkies – and some of the different ways in which filmmakers have brought selkie tales to the big screen. The night includes the Scottish premiere of Hanna Tuuliki’s mesmerising new film Seals’kin (fresh from the Sydney Biennale), a filmed traditional selkie story from the highland sennachie George Macpherson, an achingly romantic new interpretation of Hebridean selkie tales in Mara: the Seal Wife and live selkie tales performed by Donald. (23 June, Filmhouse)

Two feature documentaries celebrating major figures of the Irish music scene

dark horse on the wind

Songs of the Open Road, Pat Collins’ lyrical documentary explores the life of Irish traveller musician Thomas McCarthy, keeper of more than 1200 of Ireland’s oldest songs, whilst Dark Horse on the Wind toasts the life and songs of ballad singer Liam Weldon, a legendary character that Ireland almost forgot.  The Songs of the Open Road screening will be introduced with a mini-concert from the Scots traveller singer-storyteller, Jess Smith and Dark Horse on the Wind will be preceded by a mini-concert from Irish musician Cathal McConnell (24 / 25 June, Filmhouse)

Who Owns The Land – a special event of music, film and discussion exploring the ongoing question of land rights in Scotland.

In the drama The Glen is Ours, a returning soldier leads his community to oppose the sale of the Scottish glen in which they live, whereas the documentary Gigha: Buying Our Island, filmed in the early 00’s follows a year in the lives of the Gigha community as they experience the highs, lows and responsibilities of owning their own island home. (26 June, Filmhouse)

Stories from Scotland’s Coalfield Communities in Lockdown

From Films of Action, a community filmmaking project founded upon the belief that Scotland’s former coalmining areas – in which 10 per cent of the population live – have many inspiring stories to tell.  When the pandemic hit in March 2020, it highlighted both the inequalities that remain long after the mines closed and how resilient coalfield communities are, quickly self-organising to support residents who are vulnerable or in need. Filmmakers Anne Milne and Shona Thomson worked with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and Regional Screen Scotland to share big screen stories of lockdown told in people’s own voices. The event will screen a selection of the films and welcome the real on-screen stars for a discussion on the action needed to support thriving communities. (29 June, Scottish Storytelling Centre)

Festival Closing Film The Sang’s The Thing

The festival closes with a rare screening of Doc Rowe’s newly-edited documentary The Sang’s The Thing, collecting performances of some of Scotland’s most notable singers, including Lizzie Higgins, Ray Fisher, Jane Turriff, the Stewarts of Blair, Willie Scott, Hamish Henderson, Tam Reid and Dave & Betty Campbell. Drawn from Doc’s considerable archive of recordings taken over the past 40 years, the film offers an unparalleled glimpse into the Scottish folk revival and is introduced with a short set of live music from Jimmy Hutchison. (1 July, Scottish Storytelling Centre)


Tickets for all events at the Scottish Storytelling Centre are pay-what-you-can. Tickets for opening night screening of Mairi Mhor are free. Other screenings at Edinburgh Filmhouse range from £5 – £10. Book Tickets

About Folk Film Gathering

Curated by Transgressive North, the Folk Film Gathering is the world’s first folk film festival, screening films that celebrate the lived experiences of communities worldwide since its first edition in 2015. Each annual edition explores the relationships between cinema and other traditional arts (such as oral storytelling and folk song), discovering what a folk cinema has been at moments throughout world film history, and how it may look in the future.

Say Anything at GFT
Goldilocks Goes to Greece, Summer Panto OranMor

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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