On Monday 13th June 2022 in the Dominion Cinema in the heart of Edinburgh, we are delighted to finally able to premiere the work of the FEC 2019/20 cohort of students as part of a project work closed sharing.
Weaving together footage of Orkney from the 1930s found in the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive, the FECers collaborated with their colleagues studying on the Edinburgh College of Art MSc programmes in Sound Design and Composition for Screen to research, compose, edit and record this immersive film to test the boundaries of sound and image.
The project was originally commissioned to be performed live at Filmhouse Cinema in March 2020 as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival’s 2020 retrospective exploring innovation in film scores.
The film is formed of 4 sections: TRANSPORTATION – HISTORY – FOOD – ACTIVITIES
Here is the FEC curators’ original programme introduction…
Welcome! We are a group of Edinburgh University students, representing different countries from all across the globe. From the very beginning of our programme we’ve been exploring film and all the different ways it reaches its audiences. With our daily screenings and discussions, we’ve formed a film collective, interested in researching cinematic experiences and how they can build and strengthen a community.
We were delighted to be invited to be part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival’s retrospective programme. This film programme Sound from the Edge of the World, is our experimental project testing the boundaries of sound and archival footage. It has been created as a response to the Film Festival’s focus on musical innovation in cinema.
Now, let us take you on a journey… When introduced to Orkney, “Seal Islands” as we later learned, we saw it on the map as an archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland and quite far removed from us both in distance and as an idea, and even more so during the 12-hour journey from Edinburgh by bus then ferry boat, and even on foot, in the dark days of November, to see it in person.
On arrival, however, that idea of remoteness and distance quickly faded and by attending the Film Focus Festival at West Side Cinema, by visiting the Pier Art Centre, spending some time in the Orkney Archives and traveling between Kirkwall and Stromness by bus and chatting to friendly Orcadians we began to involve ourselves, and be involved, in a very obvious strong community feeling, a thriving culture, and a proud island identity. We learned how distinct Orkney is from mainland Scotland, its Neolithic monuments an ever- present reminder of time and history, the co-existence of the living and the long dead in such a magnificent open landscape. We also saw lots of marvellous works made by many outstanding filmmakers and curators preserved in the archive library which have inspired us to work with the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive to search out what is also preserved in this national source.
We learned about the game of ‘Ba from these archives, which you will see threaded through the film chapters, which showed an extraordinary yearly event entirely new to most of us but which, we’re sure, many of you are familiar with, where one side of the village of Kirkwall competes with the other to win the ball. It’s a seriously competitive event.
We learned about life, work and community in the past through these researches but we also recognised it. Whilst the world always seems to turn quickly some things remain the same. We recognised streets and shops, the agriculture, the land dotted with sheep and cows and monuments and we felt the wind, the same feeling of wind across the islands which has been felt all through its history, and whilst the ferries, planes and buses in the archive films have all had an upgrade they all do the same job, a vital job on and across the islands of bringing communities together.
Since one of the curatorial questions we have been encouraged to ask ourselves is how to work creatively to bring such rich archive resources to wider attention, having learned much from professional curators such as Mark Cousins and Shona Thomson and their inventive work with archive and live performance. We were inspired to collaborate with our colleagues in sound to explore what happens when we combine this recognisable past with a song of live sound, combining archival footages with the present through live performances.
We would like to thank the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Filmhouse for this fantastic opportunity. We’d also like to thank the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive in Glasgow for their help with such a demanding project and Highlands and Islands Enterprise for permission to screen clips of their films. And we’d like to thank Mark Jenkins and Rebecca Marr and their colleagues at West Side Cinema, storyteller Tom Muir, and the Orkney Library and Archive for their welcome and support in Orkney. Finally, we’d like to thank our talented colleagues in sound and, most of all, we’d like to thank you all for watching the films.
Sound from the Edge of the World was curated and created by University of Edinburgh postgraduate students in: Sound Design; Composition for Screen; Film, Exhibition and Curation.
Films curated by all Film, Exhibition and Curation students who also delivered the project:
Amador Alonso Bellido
Annita Nitsaidou Isabelle Baker
Soundtracks to each section created, performed and recorded by students in Sound Design and Composition for Screen:
Felipe Amaya Alvarez