The story of Robert Burns has been told over and over, year after year. There is, of course, good reason - he is beloved in Scotland and around the world. But, this time, Scotland’s ‘Makar’ - national poet - Jackie Kay, looks beyond Burns. She looks to some of the other extraordinary, and often overlooked, poets that this nation has produced and continues to today. She brings them out from Rabbie's shadow and looks at how they have told, and continue to tell, our nation's story.
Jackie says: “Poetry holds up a unique mirror to a nation’s heart, mind and soul. It is the pure language that tells us who we are.” She holds up that mirror in this documentary and looks at some of the poets who have influenced her including Robert Fergusson, Margaret Tait, Liz Lochhead and Norman MacCaig.
Jackie meets writers including Val McDermid, James Robertson, Hannah Lavery and Kevin MacNeil to learn more about the overlooked poets and hear some of their stunning works; works, they argue, should be as well known in Scotland as any of Burns’ greatest hits.
The interrogation of identity and themes of belonging have always been at the heart of Kay’s work, and it’s a theme that has resonated with Scottish poets for centuries. Jackie candidly shares some painful stories and events from her past that have shaped her life and work, and this honest film never shies away from confronting the shameful issues of racism that stalked her growing up in Scotland and, what Hebridean writer Kevin MacNeil calls, being “othered.”
This eye-opening documentary highlights the fact that, for a small nation, Scotland undeniably punches above its weight in poets. It also highlights its undeniable beauty, with breath-taking land and seascapes from the Isle of Lewis, Dunbar, Biggar and more. The cinematography, and poetry, is accompanied by an original score from composer, Francis Macdonald.
Jackie Kay says: “I see poetry as part of the national conversation. Poetry should be part of the blethering about who we are and what we want to do with our lives. It shouldn’t be something that’s away off in the corner that nobody understands.” This film goes some way to start that blether and it’s hard to argue with the Makar!
Available Now on the BBC iPlayer
NOTEWORTHY with Chris McQueer
People may sometimes recognise the faces on our Scottish banknotes - for that reason - because they’re on the money that we spend. But, apart from the usual suspects, like Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Robert the Bruce, many of us have no idea who half of them are, or of their extraordinary impact on the world.
Chris McQueer, author of the cult classic, Hings, is on a mission to change this. In his first documentary, the rising star explores the lives of some of the great Scots who have been deemed noteworthy. He also sets himself a challenge to create his very own banknote, featuring some of his heroes and the landscapes that inspire him as he travels around Scotland.
TEAM TIBET is a remarkable story of courage; of physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion, with a drive to cross the finish line stronger than that of any Olympian.
Tibet cannot take part in the Olympics as it is not recognised as a sovereign state by the International Olympic Committee so, in an act of defiance and solidarity, a group of young Tibetan refugees held their own.
Their stories weave through the physical and emotional exhaustion of Olympic events, held in the foothills of the Himalayas in India.
For them, it is bigger than the Games - it’s a race for life.
AT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVALS NOW
Our team has decades of broadcast and journalism experience.
We have produced outstanding multi-genre documentaries across factual, history, arts, current affairs & wildlife.
Our filmmakers are the Director & Producer team of Alison Pinkney & Jackie Maclean.
We have developed and
produced documentaries for UK
and international broadcasters, including the BBC, BBC Worldwide, Channel 4, Discovery, ITV,
NBC & Sky.
Our credits include Beyond Burns, Noteworthy with Chris McQueer, TEAM TIBET, This Farming Life, Coppers, Clare Balding's Britain By Bike, Alan Cumming's Edge Of Scotland, Orkney: When The Boat Comes In, Exposure: Forced To Marry, Dispatches: Britain On Benefits, Bannatyne Takes On Big Tobacco, The Scots Who Found The Modern World, Simon King's Shetland Diaries, Muriel Spark by Ian Rankin,
Ivor Cutler by KT Tunstall.
Our most recent production, Beyond Burns, is currently available on the BBC iPlayer, alongside 2020's Noteworthy with Chris McQueer.
Look out for two films made by our team on the newly launched Sky Arts channel. They are Muriel Spark by Ian Rankin and . Thanks for some really kind feedback on these films. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from Ivor Cutler fans.
Look out for TEAM TIBET, the feature length documentary from
Elephant Shoe Films. It is currently screening at film festivals around the world.