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22 February 2016



Hamish Henderson (1919-2002) was a colossal figure in Scottish culture, a man of boundless passion and curiosity whose poems continue to elevate and inspire a nation. Robbie Fraser’s highly anticipated documentary pays tribute to the many contrary forces and diverse facets of Henderson’s life as a poet, soldier, intellectual, activist, songwriter and leading force in the revival of Scottish folk music.

Produced by Bees Nees Media in association with Pure Magic Films the documentary film is a heartfelt tribute to one of modern Scotland’s proudest sons and weaves golden archive footage with the loving testimony of Henderson’s family, friends and colleagues.

Henderson’s experience of war acted as a catalyst for his poem sequence Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica for which he received the Somerset Maugham Award in 1949.

Henderson became an integral part of the Scottish folk movement when he accompanied the American folklorist Alan Lomax on a collection tour of Scotland. His career as a collector not only established his place as a permanent member of staff at the School of Scottish Studies but also led him to return to his native Blairgowrie making the travellers who berry-picked in summer his particular area of activity. He beautifully described this time as like “sitting under Niagara Falls with a tin can”.

Henderson helped establish the Edinburgh’s People’s Festival in 1951. It put traditional Scottish folk music on a public stage for the first time and arguably evolved into the internationally renowned Edinburgh Fringe as we know it today.

As folk clubs sprung up and modern folk songs bled into the mainstream, often these songs contained political themes and Henderson’s own compositions Freedom Come Aa’ Ye and John Maclean March were written into the fabric of Scottish culture.

In 1983 he turned down an OBE in protest of the nuclear arms policy of Margaret Thatcher’s government and as a result was voted Scot of the Year by BBC Radio Scotland listeners. He was bisexual and campaigned for equal rights, Scottish independence and was a strong supporter of the release of Nelson Mandela.

Supported by Creative Scotland and MG ALBA the film will have its premier at the Glasgow Film Festival and will broadcast on BBC ALBA autumn 2016.

• The poster for the film can be downloaded from HERE

• An electronic press pack is available to download HERE