documentary PRoductions


 

the guga hunters of ness

production company - intrepid cinema

director - mike day

producers - andy maas & mike day

Project - 60 minute documentary commissioned by BBC and premiered on BBC2 for broadcast.  Also shown and Glasgow Film Festival and Celtic Media Festival and available via vimeo on-demand streaming platform.

A rare glimpse of a Gaelic island community in Scotland and their 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.

“A gorgeously shot documentary feature that takes viewers into the heart of this ancient tradition, celebrating its longevity and lamenting its decline without once being patronising, overly worthy or dull. 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