Culture

Harry Birrell Presents Films Of Love And War

Winner of the Audience Award at Glasgow Film Festival and narrated by Richard Madden  (Bodyguard, Rocketman).


Harry Birrell was given his first cine-camera as a boy in 1928. He obsessively spent his life recording incidents great and small – from his wartime years in Bombay to meeting the love of his life. 

Harry Burrell Sepia Camera

Then at his home near Glasgow, in the 1950s, Harry knocked through two bedrooms to create a fully-furnished home cinema, which became known as the smallest cinema in Scotland.Matt Pinder’s beautifully composed, captivating documentary delivers one man’s cinematic vision of the 20th century and his own incredible journey through it.

The project to bring Harry Birrell’s films to the big screen took 4 years. Matt Pinder had been working for the BBC researching home move making when he was pointed in the direction of Harry Birrell. From there he made contact with Harry’s grand daughter, Carina.

Matt describes finding Harry’s films as a ‘voyage of discovery’ because ‘no one knew what was in his collection.’

The films not only show unique footage of Burma, the forgotten war, but accompanied by Harry’s own diary entries we are looking at what is being recorded and hearing  his thoughts at the time. There are also scenes of family, of early loves and travel giving us an insight into the man himself.

Harry Burrell Diary Office

Funding independent movie making is never easy and with backing from the BBC and Creative Scotland the film was able to go ahead. Distribution is another considerable problem film makers have to overcome and this is where support for local cinemas is crucial.

And what of Harry Birrell’s collection now? It has been moved into  temperature controlled storage and some are awaiting to be transferred to digital files. The hopes are that it will find a place in a film Archive. Interestingly some of Harry’s film went astray when he was transporting it in WW2 – so there could be a few more of these gems awaiting discovery.

Harry  Burrell mountain

Harry Birrell Presents Films Of Love And War is on at the Phoenix Cinema, Pickaquoy, Kirkwall on Thursday 19th of November at 7.30pm. Click on this link for more details: Harry Birrell Presents Films Of Love And War

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