THE SCOTSMAN: First Gaelic film will tell a tale to boost the tongue

20th May 2006

THE first Gaelic movie is to be announced at the Cannes Film Festival next week, with shooting due to begin on Skye later this month.

The film, Seachd - The Inaccessible Pinnacle, is about a storyteller who helps his grandchildren face the tragic loss of their parents on the Cuillin mountains by telling them extraordinary tales.

Padraig Morrison, from Grimsay, North Uist, will play the nine-year-old boy, and the Gaelic bard and novelist Aonghas Padraig Caimbeul his grandfather.

Scottish Screen has invested £150,000 in the film, which comes a year after the Scottish Parliament gave Gaelic, which is spoken by about 70,000 people, equal status with English as an official language of Scotland.

Chris Young, a Scottish film-maker who has had two English-language films compete at Cannes in previous years and is learning Gaelic, is trying to breathe new life into the Celtic language through cinema.

He said: "Gaelic has the most fantastic tradition of music, poetry, literature and storytelling. Films are about stories. I thought it tragic that there wasn't a Gaelic cinema, so let's begin that."

Though he comes from Edinburgh, Mr Young, 45, has lived with his wife and family on Skye for seven years. "I'm passionate about Gaelic," he said. "I'm not a fluent speaker, but my children are. I live in a part of the world where people are speaking Gaelic. There's a bilingual culture."

He was "absolutely thrilled" to have the backing of Scottish Screen, adding that the film was the beginning of "a Gaelic new wave".

Asked if there would be a big potential audience for a film in a minority language, he replied: "People will go and see a film if it is good."

The feature film will be launched by the Highlands and Islands Film Commission at Cannes on Monday.

by Rhiannon Edwards