Celebrity wild swimmer makes a splash at film awards

Wild Swimmer Calum Maclean scooped the top prize for Best Director.
Wild Swimmer Calum Maclean scooped the top prize for Best Director.

Social media star Calum Maclean, usually found in freezing lochs rather than swanky awards ceremonies, was tonight (8th February) crowned Best Director at the FilmG Awards.

Calum, best known for his appearances on the BBC’s The Social platform and BBC ALBA’s wild swimming series, Dhan Uisge, scooped the top prize for his experimental film Fo Bhuaidh.

Calum says, “I’m delighted to be awarded the FilmG Best Industry Director prize. The standard in this year’s competition was excellent with some very strong films.

“Fo Bhuaidh was based on an idea I’d had for a while - a nightmare scene utilising huge abandoned oil tanks as the setting. I made the film entirely on my own: from filming, starring in it, and even creating the soundtrack. The prize will give me the opportunity of creating more work and expanding on what I am currently able to do, and I’m excited to create more films in future.

“FilmG is a brilliant platform for filmmakers and creative people to try new ideas, or to showcase their talents, and a further opportunity to use their Gaelic.”

The film about facing fears was nominated for three awards in total, but was pipped to the post by rival film Sòlas in the Best Drama and Best Performance categories.

Sòlas, a powerful film about domestic violence by creator Lana Pheutan scooped the £1000 prize, with lead actor, Lewis-based Mairi MacLennan picking up the £200 prize for Best Performance for her moving portrayal of domestic abuse victim Jenna.

Another big winner of the night was Glaiste, which won two of the three awards it was nominated for.

Eilidh Johnson from Dingwall is the force behind the award-winning Glaiste, which is a haunting stop-motion film about mental health. The thought-provoking piece won Best Mobile Short and HIE Most Promising Director, seeing Eilidh win two incredible placements within the media industry including at BBC’s The Social.

It was Stornoway’s Nicholson Institute which gained the most nominations in the youth category, with five in total, winning the awards for Best Performance and Award for Fluent Gaelic Speakers for their comedy piosmathduff.com, and Best Script for A-mach à Uchd a’ Bhàis, a documentary on the Iolaire disaster.

The Scottish Government sponsored the top prize in the youth category, Best Film, which this year went to Lochaber High School in Fort William. Like many of this year’s entries, their film Origami focuses on bullying, but from the unusual perspective of the bully.

In attendance on the evening was Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP, who says:

“My congratulations to Lochaber High School, and all the winners and nominees of tonight’s awards.

“We recognise the cultural, economic, educational, health and social benefits that Gaelic language and culture brings to the whole of Scotland. That’s why we want to increase the number of users of the language while increasing opportunities to use it in everyday situations.

“Broadcasting Gaelic-speaking film and television is vital to ensure its continuation at the heart of our cultural identity.”

FilmG is run by MG ALBA and Skye-based media company Cànan Graphics Studio, to encourage the growth of Gaelic media talent. It has been running for 11 years, and has been the platform for many people now working within the Gaelic TV and film industry.

Murdo MacSween, Communications Manager at MG ALBA says: “I am over the moon with the quality of the films at this year’s awards. It is wonderful to see so much young talent nurturing their Gaelic language skills – and being rewarded for it. FilmG has paved the way for many people in their film and TV careers, and it’s exciting to see the next generation shining through.”

WINNERS BY CATEGORY – 11TH AWARDS

OPEN CATEGORY

Best Comedy or Drama: Sòlas

Best Performance: Mairi MacLennan – Sòlas

Best Industry Director: Calum MacLean – Fo Bhuaidh

Best Script: Coinneach Lindsay

HIE’s Most Promising Young Director: Eilidh Johnson – Glaiste

Film Dùthchais as Fheàrr: Muir ar n-Athraichean – Magnus Course

Best Student Film: Àrdan ‘s Aineolas: David Mitchell – Lachlan Peel

Best Mobile Short: Glaiste – Eilidh Johnson

YOUTH CATEGORY

Best Film: Origàmi - Àrd-sgoil Loch Abar (Lochaber High School)

Best Performance: piosmathduff.com - Sgoil MhicNeacail (Nicholson Institute)

FilmG Gaelic Award for Learners: Aineolach - Acadamaidh Allt a’ Mhuilinn (Millburn Academy)

FilmG Gaelic Award for Fluent Speakers: piosmathduff.com - Sgoil MhicNeacail (Nicholson Institute)

Best Youth Group Film: Mòd Màiri – Bun-sgoil Stafainn (Staffin Primary School)

Best Script: A-mach à Uchd a’ Bhàis - Sgoil MhicNeacail (Nicholson Institute)

Most Creative Production: An t-Sabaid - Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu (Glasgow Gaelic School)

Best Mobile Short: Sgeulachdan na h-Alba - Elissa Hunter-Dorans

Best Young Filmmaker: Fàisneachd Dedrick - Jack Weir and Gordie Bryce