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BBC ALBA documentary shortlisted for The Grierson Awards

20 July 2018

A BBC ALBA documentary has been shortlisted for one of the world’s most prestigious awards, it was revealed today (26 June 2018).

Sùlaisgeir: An t-Sealg (The Hunt) – which accompanied a group of men who participate in an annual tradition of the “guga hunt” – has been put forward in the Natural History category of The Grierson Awards. It is the first time that a Gaelic-language programme has been shortlisted.

The programme documented the controversial practice which takes place every year, when a group of men from Ness on the Isle of Lewis travel 40km north to the tiny island of Sùlaisgeir, and harvest 2,000 young gannets, known as the guga.

The story followed Dods MacFarlane on his last guga hunt, after 40 years keeping up the practice which was handed down to him by his father.

The film was made at a time of change for the guga hunt. With the older generations retiring, and the increased resistance from those out-with the tightknit community of Ness, these are changing times for the guga hunt.

Independent production company MacTV, based in Stornoway, produced Sùlaisgeir.

The documentary was also commended at the Chicago International TV festival, receiving a Certificate of Merit.

MacTV Producer, Màiri Smith, said: “We are delighted to see Sùlaisgeir: The Hunt sharing a platform with programmes as well known as Blue Planet. MacTV were privileged to have the opportunity to tell the story of the Ness Guga Hunters from the inside, and share it with the wider world.”

BBC ALBA’s Head of Service Margaret-Mary Murray comments: “We are delighted to have been shortlisted for one of the world’s most respected documentary awards highlighting the creative excellence of our producers and the bonds of trust which underpinned this film. Sùlaisgeir: The Hunt deals with a controversial subject with candour and honesty documenting an age old process and its attendant traditions with creative beauty and bravery.”

The British Documentary Awards, more commonly known as The Griersons were established in 1972 to commemorate the pioneering Scottish documentary maker John Grierson (1898-1972).