I did intend to see both sets of short documentaries that were showing at the Inverness Film Festival this year, but circumstances conspired against me. (I did, however, get a lovely walk in the Autumnal sunshine yesterday morning as compensation.) Handily, the screening that I did see was the one that contained almost all of the short documentaries I was most interested in seeing. If I could only see one of the screenings, I’m glad it was this one.
The first documentary in the collection is a little slice of life film, about people learning to be bell ringers at St Andrews Cathedral in Inverness. It’s an interesting enough little piece as it is, but mostly it made me want a documentary more about the history of the bell ringers, I wanted more than anything to know more. It also reminded me that a couple of years ago I started some research work, towards making a radio documentary about the Bell Ringers at Dunblane Cathedral – now I really want to make that documentary!
Dear Peter is, I think, the third of Scott Willis’ documentaries that I’ve seen now – he worked at Eden Court for a while which sort of makes him a local film-maker – so I’m starting to recognise his style of film-making. They tend to focus on an interesting character that Scott’s met – and they tend to stand or fall based on the nature of the friendship that forms between film-maker and subject. This one works really well, I found it compelling and lovely, perhaps most of all because I’m also the sort of person who, if they found a collection of art postcards in a bookshop – all addressed to the one person – would want to track that person down and interview them.
The shortest film in the collection – Sheepo is probably the film that I would most whole-heartedly recommend. There’s not a lot to it and it’s certainly not going to change the world, but it was by a long way, the most fun. It was brilliantly shot, did nice things with sound and had an engaging and amusing protagonist and subject. Who knew competitive sheep shearing could be so much fun?
I’m not sure why I like documentaries about boat building, but I really love documentaries about boat building. There’s just something about the type of person who is willing to spend the time to hand build a wooden boat that seems to make them a compelling subject for a documentary and this one was full of those people. Young and old, male and female – and quite frankly the lassie from Plockton neatly articulated everything I love about woodworking – the sense of community, of building something together, something greater than themselves oozed out of every moment of this film.
With the Rising Tide is a gorgeous lyrical film, with an interesting approach to sound. (Even if said sound did make the sound designer in me twitch to get at the sound mix to mellow out some of the more jarring audio cuts.)