BBC ALBA’s new drama premiers at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

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BBC ALBA’s first original Gaelic drama series, Bannan, is to be premièred at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The whole pilot of three 30 minute programmes, which will be shown on the channel in September, has been selected for screening on June 28th as part of the 68th annual event which is the oldest continually running film festival in the world.

Widely known for his work on the hugely popular drama The Inbetweeners, Bannan is produced by Christopher Young of Young Films with Gaelic producer Morag Stewart. The drama follows the story of Màiri MacDonald’s return home to the island from which she escaped eight years ago, having left her family and the place, its claustrophobia and its customs.

Margaret Mary Murray, head of service for BBC ALBA and executive producer of Bannan, said: “We are absolutely delighted than Bannan is to première at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival.

“This festival is renowned throughout the world and for Bannan to be selected for screening alongside some illustrious other film productions is testament to the hard work and talent of everyone involved, from the writer to the cast, the production and craft specialists.

“We always knew that we wanted to create an original Gaelic drama for BBC ALBA but we did not know what form the concept would take. It has taken time to get to this stage and the production would not have been realised without the support and innovative collaboration of our partners MG ALBA and Creative Scotland. We hope that this screening at the film festival will help highlight the talent showcased in Bannan and enable BBC ALBA to reach new audiences.”

Initially returning for the funeral of a family friend, the emotional ties (‘bannan’) see Màiri remain on the island longer than anticipated - first out of necessity and then by choice. Màiri’s journey reawakens the unresolved conflicts that are rooted in her memory of home - love and hate, past and present, suffocation and freedom – and the one person with whom she must renew her ‘bannan’ is the only person she wants to remain firmly in the past.

Directed by former River City actor Tony Kearney, the entire production was carried out through the medium of Gaelic. From scripts to auditions, rehearsals to shooting, the language on-set was Gaelic – a ground-breaking move that surprisingly had never been done before.

Three episodes have been filmed so far, with a further 15 being developed by Young Films.

The scripts for the three completed episodes were written by Chrisella Ross, a native Gaelic speaker from Point on the Isle of Lewis, with the support of Charlie Martin as format writer.

Chrisella has drawn inspiration from her own surroundings for the script: from the beauty of the landscape to the characters on her own island in order to create a true sense of a 21st century rural community, all with Gaelic values, humour, idioms and expressions.

A rich original score has also been created for Bannan by critically acclaimed composer and musician Donald Shaw who has teamed up with rising star Sorren MacLean in a collaboration to create a unique but contemporary Gaelic soundtrack.