Docs@The Byre: Celebrating the Cinematic Documentary

Laura Bates
Friday 18 January 2019

Documentaries don’t just inform us about the world. They inspire, delight, and immerse us in the world.  They engage and exhilarate with their stories, characters, images, and sounds. They take us places we haven’t even imagined of going. And yet, documentary gets a bad rap. People treat it like the broccoli of the film kingdom: good for you but not necessarily pleasurable— more talking heads for the telly than a spectacle at the cinema. By showing compelling documentaries on the big screen and holding conversations with documentary professionals and scholars, Docs@TheByre sets the record straight.  After all, documentaries may have something to teach us but there’s also a lot we can learn about documentary— and should learn in this age of ‘post-truth’.

Location: Byre Studio

Free but ticketed – see the full list of events below


Wednesday, 6 February, 5pm: Donkeyote (Chico Pereira/ 2017/Germany-UK-Spain / 86min)

Manolo has a simple life in Southern Spain and two loves: his animals, in particular his donkey Gorrión (“Sparrow”), and wandering through nature. Against the advice of his doctor, he decides to plan one last walk in the US, the brutal 2200 mile Trail of Tears. But not without his donkey. Overcoming the small obstacle of shipping a donkey, Manolo’s chronic arthritis, a history of heart attacks, and Gorrión’s fear of water are just a few matters to take care of. As their adventure continues, Manolo’s wondrous friendship with his animals finds a beautiful equilibrium. Will they find the American West? More importantly, will they be able to see life as it is, and not as it should be?

WINNER: Best Documentary – Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017

NOMINATED: Best Feature – BAFTA Scotland 2017

Q&A with Flore Cosquer (Scottish Documentary Institute)


Wednesday, 27 March, 5pm: Time Trial (Finlay Pretsell/ 2018/UK/82min)

Time Trial gives us an exhilarating and terrifying place in the race, providing an immersive experience as close to actually competing as you will ever see on film. David Millar, shrouded in darkness, declares an intention to rise again. A sensory ride through the thrill and hardship of professional cycling. We are hurtled off a hillside, details blurring like watercolours. The euphoria and the fatigue, the highs and the lows. It’s as if it were ourselves struggling through the bumpy roads of France. David bluntly and fearlessly narrates his last season in the saddle, intimate and immediate, along with the intricate relationships of cyclist, road crew, fellow competitors, manic fans, and the media circus surrounding it all.

WINNER: Best Editing-Documentary – RiverRun International Film Festival 2018

NOMINATED: Best Documentary – Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018

Q&A with Finlay Pretsell (Director)


Wednesday, 24 April, 5pm: Piano to Zanskar (Michal Sulima/ 2018/UK/86min)

Retired piano tuner Desmond O’Keeffe embarks on a quest to bring an upright piano to a primary school in the isolated village of Lingshed, located in the Himalayas, 14,000 feet about sea level. If successful, it will be the highest piano delivery in history. Join Desmond, his companions, plus some yaks and ponies on this delightful, beautiful, and occasionally harrowing journey.

NOMINATED: Audience Award – Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018

Q&A with Michal Sulima (Director) and Jarek Kotomski (Producer)


Wednesday, 22 May, 5pm: Syrian Stories: Female Voice (Various/2017/UK-Syria/62 min)

Women in Syria have not only borne the brunt of the country’s lengthy civil war, they have been marginalised and rendered invisible, despite their huge contribution to the struggle. Yet, few of the stories are told by them. In this collection of short films presented by the Scottish Documentary Institute in collaboration with the British Council and Bidayyat, female Syrian filmmakers share their experience and perspective being a refugee in neighbouring countries: Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Q&A with Programme Mentor, Noe Mendelle (Scottish Documentary Institute)

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