FOR PEAT'S SAKE
From ancient rituals to its associations with whisky, peat continues to have an historical and cultural importance in the Scottish way of life, and nowhere more so than on the stunning Isle of Lewis where the tradition of peat cutting is still an integral part of island life. For many islanders it is not just a source of fuel but a source of life. It is part of what makes them who they are.
Filmed over half a year, to capture the full peat season unfolding, this film weaves the stories of lives, young and old, who cherish the tradition.
There are many memories and yarns, shared by people from a community of some of the finest storytellers in the world, making this a rich tapestry of a film.
For Peat's Sake forms part of the BBC Our Lives series which celebrates the diversity of our society across the British Isles, through people sharing their extraordinary stories.
Broadcast on BBC One and BBC Scotland.
THE GUARDIAN PICK OF THE DAY
THE OBSERVER PICK OF THE DAY
THE TIMES CRITIC'S CHOICE
THE i NEWSPAPER CRITIC'S CHOICE
Take a meditative journey through six months in the lives of peat cutters on the Isle of Lewis in this charming documentary
Finally, a documentary free of celebrities that gets close to the sense of community, hard work and soft-hearted barracking of the Western Isles
THE PRESS & JOURNAL
It’s a little window of calm
A gentle joy
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!
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 Producer & Director team of Jackie Maclean & Alison Pinkney.
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 For Peat's Sake, 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 for BBC One and BBC Scotland, For Peat's Sake, is currently available
on the BBC iPlayer. Mòran taing to the great people of Lewis for their kindness, especially to Choppy & Mary Ann.
Mostly, this film would never have happened without our very own brilliant, beautiful, Jackie.
Beyond Burns with Jackie Kay can also be seen on the BBC iPlayer.
Two films made by our team for Sky Arts are currently on repeat if you would like to check those out.
They are Muriel Spark by Ian Rankin and Ivor Cutler by KT Tunstall.
Look out for TEAM TIBET, the feature length documentary from
Elephant Shoe Films. It is currently screening at film festivals around the world.