Scotland’s Folk Film Gathering 2023

The World’s first festival of folk cinema returns to Edinburgh from 12th – 29th June with screenings at Cameo, Scottish Storytelling Centre and North Edinburgh Arts plus online. 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.


The full programme has been announced. Highlights at the ninth annual festival, which will run at venues across Edinburgh from the 12th – 29th June, include:

The World Premiere on Saturday 24th June, 15:00 at the Cameo Cinema of a new soundtrack commission by Scottish electronic duo Dalhous for the electrifying 1929 Ukrainian silent film Arsenal, a blistering tale of revolutionary uprising.

A focus on Ukrainian folk filmmaking with screenings of the social-realist comedy Amulet (Friday 23rd June, 17:45 at the Cameo Cinema) shot in the midst of Ukraine’s 1990 independence demonstrations; Voice of Grass (Saturday 17th June, 18:00 at the Cameo Cinema), a magical cinematic re-telling of a classic Ukrainian folk story from a feminist perspective and the prize-winning new drama-thriller Pamfir (Monday 19th June, 18:00) following a Ukrainian man reconnecting to his troubled past as he returns home for his village’s traditional carnival. All of these screenings will be introduced by live Ukranian music performances by the likes of Karina & Kristina Avalan and Elzara Batalova.

Two documentary films exploring the phenomenon of second sight in the Outer Hebrides – Alison McAlpine’s Second Sight (Friday 16th June, 18:00 at the Cameo Cinema) which follows 80-year-old former preacher Donald Angus MacLean as he searches for the paranormal on the Isle of Skye, and Joshua Bonnetta’s The Two Sights (Sunday 18th June, 17:30 at the Cameo Cinema) which places the testimonies of Hebridean community members against a powerful multi-sensory evocation of the landscape. The Second Sight screening will be preceded by Hebridean songs and stories from Margaret Bennett and Alastair McIntosh and The Two Sights screening by stories from Hebridean storyteller Martin McIntyre.

Three rarely-screened Scottish classics from the BBC’s seminal 1970’s Play For Today series – Orkney (Tuesday 20th June, 17:45, at the Cameo Cinema), a triptych of Orcadian tales past and present from George Mackay Brown, adapted by Tom McGrath; The Ploughman’s Share (Thursday 22nd June, 18:00, at the Cameo Cinema), Douglas Dunn’s powerful teleplay exploring the loss of Scotland’s rural livelihoods and The Bevellers (Sunday 25th June, 17:30, at the Cameo Cinema), Roddy McMillan’s account of the challenges and camaraderie within Glasgow’s industrial history. Orcadian musician Graham Rorie will play live before Orkney, Scott Gardiner will perform traditional songs before The Ploughman’s Share and Sean Grey will perform live before The Bevellers.

Being In A Place (Thursday 29th June, 19:00, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre), Scottish artist Luke Fowler’s evocative poetic tribute to the legendary Orcadian filmmaker Margaret Tait and the distinctive local landscapes that shaped her work. The screening will feature musical responses from experimental musician Bell Lungs and Orcadian artist and musician Sarah McFadyen.

The Scottish premiere of What Happened Here (Monday 12th June, 18:00 at the North Edinburgh Arts – West Pilton Neighbourhood Centre), the new film from Newcastle’s politically engaged Amber Collective – a dynamic tribute to the Durham women who kept their community afloat during the 1980s miners strikes. The film will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and local community organisers.

Granton Voices (Saturday 17th June, 13:00, North Edinburgh Arts – West Pilton Neighbourhood Centre), a special afternoon of films made by the children of Granton Primary School over the last half a decade – a remarkable body of work exploring the impact of racism and homophobia, experiences of immigration and what happens when you sleep in and miss the school bell.

The Bevellers

Folk Film Gathering’s Co-producers Jamie Chambers and Lydia Beilby said:

“Folk Film Gathering, the world’s first festival of folk cinema, is delighted to be returning to screens at the Cameo Cinema, North Edinburgh Arts and The Storytelling Centre, as well as online, between 12th-29th June 2023.”

“Folk film is film that focuses upon community, place and people, and this year’s packed programme sets into motion a dialogue of solidarity between Ukraine and Scotland, which draws connections across the rich cinematic heritage of both countries. Rarely screened films and notable Ukranian titles, including Alexander Dovzhenko’s seminal Arsenal with a new soundtrack performed live by Scottish electronic duo Dalhous, will sit side-by-side over 15 days of programming.”

Granton Voices

Tickets to all screenings are on sale now. You can book online via Tickets are priced from Pay What You Can through to £12.90. There are also a number of free tickets available for those who need them. To request these, audiences should email [email protected].

Comments (1)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Niemand says:

    Decent feature on this on Front Row (BBC R4) last night. Looks good.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.