Archive Gilbertson films to be screened

Several of the late film-maker Jenny Gilbertson’s productions are being screened next week, with the hope of identifying some of the people who appeared in them.

The two screenings, at Shetland Museum and the Hillswick hall, have been organised by Gilbertson’s biographer Shona Main, along with the Shetland Moving Image Archive, Scottish Screen Archive and Shetland Film Club.

The films are some of Gilbertson’s earliest, from 1932 to 1934, and were largely made in the North Mainland of Shetland.

The Shetland Museum screening, on Sunday from 1.15pm, will feature Rugged Island with entry costing £2.50.

Then on Thursday at Hillswick, with a 7.10pm start, those on show will be A Crofter’s Life in Shetland, Cattle Sale, From Hillside to Home (aka Scenes for a Croft Life), In Sheep’s Clothing and Da Makkin o’ a Kishie. If time permits Rugged Island will also be shown.

The latter event is free but donations will be gratefull received as will homebakes for the tea break. It is hoped that Gilbertson’s daughters Helen Thomson and Ann Black will be in the audience.

Main said: “These films were largely filmed in Northmavine, particularly around Hillswick using and featured local crofters, yet there is no full record of who was in them or where they were filmed.

“We are hoping that those whose family members were in them will come along but all enthusiasts of Gilbertson, Hillswick/Northmavine and Shetland films are welcome to come and help.

“Shetland Film Club are helping with the projection of the film: we’ll show the film and ask folk to contribute. And if other information and stories come tumbling out, all the better.

“We are hoping these screenings will be fascinating but fun and will remind people of the value and beauty of Gilbertson’s work that captured the people of Shetland and a way of life forever changed.

“As a pioneer of documentary and of realism, Gilbertson’s work is hugely significant to the history of documentary film – and this history happened here, in Shetland.”


Add Your Comment
  • Stephen Gordon

    • October 7th, 2015 13:50

    These films were shown on a regular basis for many years by Alistair Smith of R.W. Bayes during the Summer Islesburgh exhibition. I’m sure he has a great knowledge concerning them.

    • shona main

      • October 8th, 2015 13:50

      Thank you for your comment which is most helpful. I will seek out Alastair Smith when I’m up.

  • Liz Kirby

    • October 8th, 2015 21:43

    My late Papa, Donnie Irvine features in one of these films when he was Guizer Jarl, I feel VERY lucky to have seen moving film of a family member as a young man from so long ago, thanks to Jenny Gilbertson!

  • John Coutts

    • October 9th, 2015 9:36

    I showed Jenny Gilbertson’s films on two different occasions in Fetlar during the 1980s. She visited and filmed on the island in 1931, and also in the 1960s. Part of her film, A Crofter’s Life in Shetland, was shot on Fetlar, and most of the people seen in the film are known. Some are even closely related to me.

    She captured the wedding of Leza Robertson and James Hughson in Fetlar in April of 1931, as well as the summer peat flitting that year with Shetland ponies on Lambhoga, a large peat-covered peninsula on the island. Her films are a unique and truly valuable contribution to Shetland’s social history.



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