Whilst documentaries come in all shapes and sizes, it’s often the personal and intimate ones which carry the most resonance. Whilst focussing on a seemingly obscure or niche figure, film-makers conflate their experiences with that of many others. How their lives are a microcosm of a bigger picture. Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War certainly fits into that category.
After Harry Birrell was given a cine-camera as a boy, filming soon became an obsession. He spent the rest of life capturing every moment he could. Whether that was simply everyday life, family gatherings or more worldly events. During the war he was stationed in Bombay, posted to the jungles of Burma and the mountains of Nepal; commanding a battalion of Gurkhas. He went on to create the ‘smallest cinema in Scotland’.
Director Matt Pinder has worked with the Birrell family to craft a story of Harry’s life which captures what it was like to be a young man living in tumultuous times. A story of love and war. He does this by combining Harry’s footage with readings from his diaries. Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War is produced by his granddaughter, Carina. Which is appropriate given our connection to him often flows through her. It’s an intimate portrait of a rather fascinating man.
Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War is out in cinemas from 4 October.