Cianalas

Zoe Paterson Macinnes, Lewis

I made Cianalas as part of my final year at University. We were given a brief to create a ten-minute film, and we could choose what it was about. 

The idea first started when I was actually applying for university and had to come up with a folio of some short films. I’d never made a film before and had no idea where to start. So I thought I should start with what I knew. The first thing that sprung to mind was my home in the Isle of Lewis, so I made a couple of minutes of film explaining that there is more to island life than what you first see. That theme followed me throughout uni (or I followed it) and when the time came to start pitching our final projects, there was only one thing that made sense to me. 

Living in the city did change my views on home. It became more than this exciting place where I grew up. All the comments I got about why it made sense that I moved to a city etc. only made me more passionate to show people that the Western Isles of Scotland are different yes, but not in the ways that people assume. It’s different because of the passion that we have for where we live, it’s different because of how connected we are with our history and our future, it’s different because so many people get all they need from these islands, without the need to travel further afield. Not because it’s isolated or out of touch. 

I move between the city and home all the time, because no matter how exciting my jobs are on the mainland or how much family I have there, I can’t seem to last more than a few months with only short visits to home. But it comes down to more than just homesickness, and I really wanted that to come through in the film, which is why I decided to name it after cianalas, the only word to describe that pull towards the islands. However, I didn’t want the film to only be my perspective of home because so many also feel that way. One thing that got me through missing home when I was studying was listening to music from the islands. Music is a large part of the islands heritage, and the fact that the music scene is growing rapidly and reaching to the other side of the world is the perfect connection between past and future that I wanted to showcase through Cianalas, which is why I chose to have the musicians from the Hebrides tell us their version.

So I interviewed various musicians from the Isle of Lewis, where I am from, about their views on island life and that feeling of cianalas. I decided to accompany the interviews with shots of the island that I first notice when I am home, which isn’t the wide beaches or the highland cows, it’s the colours in the ground, the sound of water running and the people hard at work; and that’s how Cianalas came to be!

One Reply to “Cianalas”

  1. Hi Zoe , really interesting to read this. I don’t live on the islands yet have a sense of what you mean and know about cianlas , and the closely related Welsh word ‘hiraeth’ which is also about longing. Whenever I visit I can’t wait to return and feel a great affinity, embracing the spirit of the place.
    I’ve visited the Hebrides for many years and am currently awaiting ( with baited breath!) the possible publication of a book in which I’ve written about these islands and their people.
    Keep up the good work!!

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