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Jenny Gilbertson screenings

Shetland film maker Jenny Gilbertson.

ISLANDERS are to get the rare opportunity to watch some of Jenny Gilbertson’s early films and help identify people and places shown.

The Shetland filmmaker produced a number of documentaries of crofters’ harsh life in the 1930s.

Now, local filmmaker and Gilbertson biographer Shona Main and Glasgow-based researcher Jenny Brownrigg are screening some of her films in Lerwick and Hillswick to learn more about the people who knew Gilbertson.

Rugged Island will be shown on Sunday 11 October (1.15pm for a 1.45pm start until 4pm) at the Shetland Museum and Archives (entry £2.50).

The following Thursday, Hillswick Hall is the venue for a screening of 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 Keshie between 7pm and 10pm.

Both events are being held in conjunction with the Shetland Moving Image Archive, Scottish Screen Archive and Shetland Film Club.

Main said that, in researching her book and speaking with Joanne Jamieson of the moving image archive, it became clear there was no real record of who appears in Gilbertson’s films and where they were filmed.

“We thought we needed to rectify this before the passage of time made it too difficult,” she said.

“We are really keen for people who knew the Gilbertsons and Hillswick/ Northmavine to be able to work out who we see in the films and the crofts/locations that feature.

“I am also hoping that those with stories about Gilbertson, even if they are unrelated to the films, come along and speak to me.

“It would be a real help to me as I try to pull together a full picture of her life and work and all that contributed to it.”

While Main is researching a major biography of Gilbertson, described as “the only one-man film unit in the world… run by a woman”, Brownrigg in her research looks at the work of three female film-makers documenting life in the Highlands and Islands in the 1930s: Gilbertson, Margaret Fay Shaw and Mary Ethel Muir Donaldson.

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