Gaelic has a rich poetic history in the Western isles. Picture by Bill Heaney
By Rory Murphy
A FILM which features ‘Gaelic rap’ has made the shortlist for this year’s Gaelic short film competition, FilmG 2021.
The film, Brochan Lom – written and produced by Glasgow-based Highlander, Hammy Sgìth – has been nominated across numerous categories in the open competition, including Best Film, Best Performance and Most Promising New Director.
Hammy (24) takes that traditional Gaelic gold standard of solo performance and re-invents it with his wicked sense of humour, excelling in shaping current events with his homemade beat and a ‘GlasGael’ perspective. He did most of his Gaelic learning in an online conversation group started during the first lockdown.
Hammy said: “I’m always thinking of funny things to say in my head and the lyrics for this song are from my own day-to-day observations since last summer. I find it easier to express myself in Gaelic and it’s perfect for rapping because the rhymes depend on the vowels. So it’s easy to make rhymes within the lines.
“Gaelic has a rich poetic history so many of the words and old phrases are universal and already say so much about life, that’s a great thing to have in your toolbox. I like to weave songs with this golden thread of history.”
This is just one of an array of fantastic films by talented filmmakers, schools and community groups from across Scotland that have made it to the shortlists for the FilmG 2021 Short Film Competition.
Nominees have now been confirmed across 17 categories and all the shortlisted films are available to watch on the FilmG website.
The competition received 104 entries this year, which covered various different stories and current events, and the judges had a tough job whittling down the entries.
Some films took this year’s theme of ‘Èirich/Rise’ to heart while others explored the concept of lockdown and the kinds of stories that stemmed from that shared experience.
Karen Elder, from the BBC ALBA An Là news team was one of the judges, she said: “It has been a challenging year for many of us given the Coronavirus pandemic, and Èirich was a fitting theme for this year’s competition.
“All the entries certainly rose to the challenge and showed us a wide range of perspectives in terms of what lockdown meant for them and how it affected them. The films were of a very high standard, and it was a pleasure to view them.”
The variety of films in the Open category demonstrated the inspiration and creativity that came out of the challenging 2020.
Glasgow-based content creator, Dan Shay’s film Èirich, tells an abstract tale set in monochrome partnered with raw, moody Gaelic music by band, Whyte. Dan has been nominated for Best Film this year.
Also nominated in the open category was Aberfeldy-based content creator, Calum Maclean, who’s short film, Am Bruadar, was full of special effects – showing how something as simple as our own garden can evoke such imagination during lockdown, helping to see our miniaturised surroundings in a new light.
For the Best Student Film category, representatives from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (the Gaelic college in Skye) featured prominently, including Èirich by Katie Hammond from North Lanarkshire which takes the viewer on a poetic journey of hope and inspiration despite the difficult times we are currently living through.
The sandy beach at Mangersta on the Island of Lewis. Picture by Brian Wilson
Inverness-based Eòghan Stiùbhart was nominated in the Best Mobile Short category with a film in which he played two different characters. Am Fear ’s a Chòta Dhubh tells the story of an inevitable encounter with a stranger our protagonist wasn’t quite expecting. A monochrome drama shot beautifully in a rural setting.
Jack Weir, from Edinburgh, was nominated in the Best Performance category for his drama, Ath-ghnàthachadh, a look into unexpected events after helping an apparent stranger.
Bròn, by Edinburgh Napier University student, John Nicholson, is nominated in the Best Script category. John and his group created a drama which sees a man’s father’s prized fishing bag washed up on a beach and the exploration into why and how this happened.
In the Youth Category, the judges were also encouraged by the volume and quality of the films.
One film on two shortlists was Na Cèicean Blasta by Craighill Primary School in Tain, which tells the story of Granny’s stolen cakes, from pleasant picnic surroundings to the courtroom. It was nominated for Best Youth Group and Best Film.
Young musicians like these keep the Gaelic tradition going in the 21st century.
In the FilmG Gaelic Award for Fluent Speakers category, Barra’s Castlebay Community School reimagined the The Great British Bake off in Barraigh a’ Bèicearachd with actors also nominated in the Best Performance category.
Amongst the Best Documentary category is The Leanne Fund, by the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, which tells the story of how the local charity supports young people with cystic fibrosis.
You can watch shortlisted films on the FilmG website and vote for the People’s Choice category until Friday 5th February.
FilmG is the Gaelic short film competition, funded by MG ALBA and delivered by Cànan Graphics Studio on the Isle of Skye.