Move over Hollywood… Staffin crofters star in film premiere

WHILE Staffin’s scenery has become a mecca for Hollywood in recent years, several crofters from the Taobh Sear will appear on the big screen themselves this week.

The Old Man of Storr, Quiraing and Staffin Bay are some of the most popular local locations for films, music videos and commercials but local people don’t enjoy a starring role.

That is going to change in Portree on Thursday night (10.11) as a film premiere will be held featuring five Staffin crofters. “Grazing on the Edge” is a film which features the local crofters who have sheep on the Corries and Staffin General grazings, which cover two large swathes of hill ground lying below the Trotternish Ridge and are close to the Storr and Hill of the Red Fox.

The contribution Staffin crofters make to managing land of “high nature value” will be the focus of the 35-minute film which includes appearances by Ronald Angus MacDonald, Dol Alec Gillies, Iain MacLeod (Marrishadder), Donald MacLeod (Culnacnoc) and Donald MacDonald (Clachan).

It was filmed in 2015 with interviews and footage shot on the hill, while the crofters also employed Go-Pros to record themselves out with their dogs going about their work and gathering sheep.

Janette Sutherland, who is the Corries and Staffin General clerk and also works for Scotland’s Rural College in Portree, said the new film illustrated the challenges local crofters faced rearing sheep on hill grazings. “I believe the film showcases the experience and knowledge of those working on the ground and demonstrates their concern about its management and issues they face,” she said.

Part of the hill grazing which features in the film.

Part of the hill grazing which features in the film.

Blackfaces are among the hardy hill breeds.

Blackfaces are among the hardy hill breeds.

Made in collaboration with researchers from the James Hutton Institute and the Universities Innovation fund, via the Scottish Funding Council, the film is part of a research project which will outline how upland land use is key for for community, agricultural and environmental benefits.

Janette added: “The JHi team filmed interviews with stakeholders with a wide range of experience of the issues. There was a strong contribution from a local group of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers. Earlier this year that evidence was used to stimulate workshop discussions which in turn helped in the editing of the final cut which is now ready for its public premiere.”

Trotternish Gaelic singer Anne Martin will start the premiere, which is free to attend, at 7.30pm in Aros with a short performance.