“a gorgeously shot documentary feature that takes viewers into the heart of this ancient tradition, celebrating its longevity and lamenting its decline without once being patronising, overly worthy or dull.
The Guga Hunters Of Ness is poetic, haunting, its beautiful imagery making it hard to look away. It's rare to see a story so effectively combine this evocative romance with the rough reality of working men's lives. The hunters come across as utterly grounded and real, yet Sula Sgeir seems to give them a license to dream. The film has an existential quality that only enhances the impact of its blunt message about the ephemerality of all human endeavour.”
-Eye for Film 2011
Ness is the last place in the UK where young gannets, known in Gaelic as Guga, are hunted for their meat. The hunting of sea birds was outlawed in 1954 in the UK, but the community of Ness on the Isle of Lewis continue to be granted the only exemption under UK and EU law allowing them to hold the annual hunt.
Every August ten men from Ness set sail for Sula Sgeir, a desolate island far out in the Atlantic. Following in the footsteps of countless generations, they leave their normal lives behind to journey through storms and high seas to reach the remote hunting ground.
The men live on the island for two exhausting weeks, sleeping in old stone bothies among ruins built by monks over a thousand years ago. They work ceaselessly, catching, killing and processing 2000 birds using traditional methods before returning home with this rare meat so cherished by the people of Ness.
The Guga Hunters of Ness had its broadcast premiere in January 2011 on BBC2 and has since screened at festivals and broadcast worldwide.
Watch interviews and read about how this film was made in a BBC feature on making the film with extra footage and clips
Hunting for Guga With The Men of Ness - Jennifer Merin 5 star review
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