Our Lunchtime Cinema pick for April is the film-poem ‘Redundant’ by Much Better Adventure’s own Stuart Kenny. Set in the Pentland Hills, the 100km hill range on the outskirts of Edinburgh, the 90-second feature explores the language around unemployment, and looks at the place of nature as a haven and comfort during lockdown and beyond.
The poem was filmed by Robbie Ambrose, with accompanying violin and double bass by Lottie Whittingham, playing an old Irish dance song called 'The Sailor's Bonnet', which was first recorded by Irish flute player John McKenna and fiddler James Morrison in 1929, and was more recently popularised by The Gloaming. The film was launched by Edinburgh poetry collective I Am Loud.
“I've not actually combined my two passions, for mountain biking and poetry, before,” says Stuart. “But they were bound to come together at some point, and it happened very naturally here. I've always found the language that’s used around unemployment can be quite stigmatising - in particular the word 'redundant', which to an extent, implies that a person is defined by their job, and is no longer useful without one. I disagree with this, of course. There’s often so much more to a person than what they do to make money - their personality, and their passions and interests for example, whether that’s something like writing or reading or knitting or just socialising with friends, or spending time outdoors.
“We have a bad habit of asking strangers ‘so… what do you?’ almost soon as we first meet someone, which plays into this - the idea that we’re defined by our jobs - but usually, even if people absolutely love their jobs, there’s a good chance they’d probably rather talk about something else.
“Nature is a place away from all of that, and I wanted to capture how nature makes us feel so comfortable. One of the things I love about riding my bike it is that when I’m out in the hills it's just me and the trees and moors and wildlife around me, and nothing else. When you’re in the great outdoors, there’s no longer any social pressures or demands. There are no e-mails or bills to pay or external factors impacting the way that you feel about yourself and the world.
“It felt like a timely moment to make the film-poem. So many people have been impacted by either furlough or unemployment in the past year, since the pandemic began, and the fact that we’ve been in lockdown so often has really left a lot of people searching for a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. I’m super lucky in that I live just a few miles from the Pentland Hills, and I’ve been able to find that sense of meaning and freedom and an escape from the relentlessness of the news in the hills and on my bike, but I think so many other people have done similarly too - turning to and really relying on nature for their wellbeing. Whether that’s been taking up walking or birdwatching or cycling.
“The Pentlands have given me a place where I can get a literal and metaphorical breath of fresh air during the pandemic, and really feel relaxed and free. I wanted to capture nature's amazing ability to make me, and so many others, feel at ease, and I think with the help of Robbie and Lottie, we’ve managed to create a nice little piece which really captures that feeling.”
Inspired? Get yourself out into nature and onto a remote adventure.