I saw We Are Northern Lights at the Picture House on Friday. It’s a glorious, moving, funny celebration of Scottish identity, made by ordinary people filming their own lives, and edited into a seamless, flowing documentary by director Nick Higgins and the Northern Lights team. He was there at the Picture House for a Q&A afterwards.
This is Scotland’s “first ever mass participation film project,” in which over 1500 people from all over Scotland were either given video cameras and training, or produced footage on their own cameras, some of them smart phones. For three months in 2012, they filmed around the questions:
What Can You See?
What Do You Wish You Had Seen?
What Would You Like To See?
The result is 300 hours of footage, which had to be edited down to 98 minutes. With so many different voices and film-makers, you’d think the film would be a dog’s breakfast. In fact, it flows really well, and I got an exhilarating sense of the diversity of Scottish life. Scotland itself, the urban and rural landscape, features as an eloquent character in the backdrop to all these voices.