Whispering Waves (WT) (2020)

Whispering Waves (Working Title)

Feature Length Creative Documentary in Production. For release mid-late 2020.

Director and Camera: Alastair Cole

Producers: Magnus Course & Alastair Cole.

Country of Production: Scotland.

Language:  Scottish Gaelic with English Subtitles

As the islands of the Outer Hebridies lurch into each new season, the fishing and seafaring communities raise their heads, nets and lines, bringing with them histories steeped in the stories, people and language of these islands. For over 2000 years the waters around these islands have played a fundamental role in sustaining life, from fishing and harvesting, to providing transport and transit between the islands, or to and from the rest of Scotland, and the world – as well as providing the setting for events and politics that have shaped the evolution of the people of the islands. The sea has also always held the power to ravage the lives of those who venture on them, to take away community members, to break families, marriages and households. The sea has held court here for centuries.

The stories, songs and events that add to the social history of these islands have been retold in books, films, poetry and music over the last centuries. However, the wealth of these have remained as oral history, passed on through the islands’ language of the last 1200 years, Scottish Gaelic.

This film reworks a selection of these oral histories from their original wire and tape recordings, as captured for the first time by visiting researchers in the middle of the 20th century and stored today in vaults across Scotland, alongside a visual journey, filmed over three years, through the lives of those who today call the islands, and their sea their own. The film reminds us of the ongoing potent relationship between the sea and life on the islands, offering whispers and shadows of people and events long since passed, but that have shaped the contemporary sea faring community on the islands today. It provides a poetic portrait of these two worlds, alongside a gentle reminder, that as the UK and Scotland enter into new futures, the thread of these island’s histories, which make up the fabric of contemporary life, are woven, unmistakably, in the Gaelic language.

The film is being produced by Tongue Tied Films, with the support of ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), Newcastle University, the University of Edinburgh, Film at Culture Lab, Western Isles Fisherman’s Association, Screen Language, and Tobar an Dualchais Sound Archive.