“The Guga Hunters Of Ness is poetic, haunting, its beautiful imagery making it hard to look away. It's rare to see a story so effectively combine this evocative romance with the rough reality of working men's lives. The hunters come across as utterly grounded and real, yet Sula Sgeir seems to give them a license to dream. The film has an existential quality that only enhances the impact of its blunt message about the ephemerality of all human endeavour.”
-Eye for Film 2011
A BBC feature documentary about a Gaelic island community in Scotland embarking on their epic annual seabird hunt in the treacherous North Atlantic.
Every August ten men from Ness set sail through the gales of the North Atlantic for Sula Sgeir, a desolate island 40 miles off the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Following in the footsteps of countless generations, they leave their normal lives behind to hunt for the guga, the meat of the young gannets.
The men spend two exhausting weeks on the uninhabited rock, sleeping in stone huts amongst ruins left by Celtic monks a thousand years ago. They work ceaselessly, catching, killing and salting 2000 birds using traditional methods before returning home with this rare meat so cherished by the people of Ness.
These are the last men allowed to hunt seabirds in the EU and the UK and for 50 years this ancient tradition has remained hidden from the cameras. In 2009 we sailed with the hunters and filmed their unique voyage.
There is a decidedly ethnographic air to this film, and a striking sense of authenticity... The scenery is spectacular and so is the cinematography. Day's camera delivers beautiful sweeps of landscape, and captures the small captivating details of his characters at home, at work and on the hunt. Most remarkable are the shots at sea, which keep the horizon steady, yet pitch and roll with the waves. You are in that boat.
The Guga Hunters of Ness is a wonderful documentary about stout-hearted men, and it is made by a stout-hearted filmmaker. The film transports you to a far away place, allows you to peer into the lives and traditions of the people who live there, and actually shows you the world around them through their eyes. It is about community, and tradition, and changing times. It's a must see, and on as large a screen as you can find for it.
- Jennifer Merin
Original Music Score
THE DEAD RAT ORCHESTRA
BBC ARCHIVE AND INFORMATION
Assistant Dubbing Editor
Sound Post Facility
Filmed and Directed by
Executive Producer for BBC Scotland
Executive Producers for Intrepid Cinema
Ana Katarina Hajduka
The Community of Ness
Comunn Lachdraigh Nis
The Lexi Cinema
Stornoway Shipping Services
Scottish Documentary Institute