MOUSEHOLE FILMS
MOUSEHOLE FILMS

     

  THE VILLAGE ON THE LOCH

 The Village on the Loch at imdb.com

 

On the banks of Loch Earn at the foot of Am Bioran lies the tiny Perthshire Village of St Fillans. 2017 marked the Bicentenary of its re-naming and the whole village, with customary enthusiasm, came together to celebrate. This is the story of the village and its changing fortunes.

 

Archivist Jim Brierly takes us with him on a journey through time; from the Picts and the arrival of St Fillan himself, the early farming communities on the hillside, the Clearances, the foundation of the Highland Society, the arrival of the Railway and the two World Wars, right up to the present day. It is a story of endurance and of how adversity shapes and determines the survival of a community. It also reflects the challenges facing all our small, rural communities in Scotland today.

An intricate quilt made by the ladies of the village, depicting its most important features, works as a motif where we return again and again throughout the film as: Farmer, Ecologist, Child Care Provider, Shopkeeper, Artist, Skydiver, Librarian, Professor, Vicar and Jockey, each take up the threads and add their piece to the patchwork. We discover that over the centuries “although the nature of those challenges may have changed, the village pulls together in much the same way.”

Today's challenges include: the spectre of Brexit and the risk to farm payments, the closure of the village school, the closure of the railway, lack of affordable housing or child care provision. We see how restrictive legislation within the National Park impacts on tourism putting the lone village shop (a lifeline to the elderly especially during the Winter months) at risk. Limited bus services and poor internet connection make the expectations of modern life a little tricky, especially for the young. The environmental impact of intensive grouse shooting; habitat destruction, species persecution and subsequent flooding, are major concerns. The weather itself, especially in Winter, is perhaps the most unpredictable challenge of all, affecting humans and animals alike.

 

With major supermarkets between twenty and forty miles away and one road in and out, modern self absorption and self reliance have no place here. Generosity, compassion and concern are the norm; as one villager remarks as he tends to his own garden, ‘The elderly in this community are well cared for. These vegetables go far and wide’. The future of any community, however, relies on the young, as one interviewee points out, ‘I think if you want to keep St Fillans alive and going, you need to encourage young people to stay’ and we learn by the end of the film that a number of the families featured have sadly had to leave the village.

The film opens with the narrator asking ‘What is a village?’ and we learn it is more than the dictionary definition, ‘A cluster of houses and associated buildings, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town’ it is the people, past and present, who have made it thrive and grow and endure. Once the destination of Royalty and global pop icons, St Fillans apparently remains a home for pixies and fairies! The echo of history weaves it’s way through the poetic narrative, ending with it’s greatest treasures, the villagers; who, speaking movingly to camera, share with us what this place means to them. We are left touched by their warmth, humour, compassion and values we feared were lost.

 

This visually captivating documentary film, showcases some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery and wildlife, courtesy of the combined and considerable filming and editing talents of Perthshire based brothers, Gabriel and Danny Bean (two time British Wildlife Photography Awards 2018 Highly Commended Cinematographer) and with a moving soundtrack, including music by young Scottish composer David Chappell. The film is written, directed and produced by first time feature director Caroline Strong and is Exec' Produced by award winning TV director/producer Ade Bean.

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