At the recent Glasgow Film Festival an unlikely hero emerged in the formidable form of Sheila Stewart, the legendary Scottish folk singer. She is the perhaps surprising link between two of the best films of the year; Ronnie Fraser’s moving and joyous Hamish, a biopic of Hamish Henderson, (more of which below) and Where You’re Meant To Be, Aidan Moffat’s travelogue of Scotland and its traditional music. Sheila Stewart appears in both, and taken together you are left in little doubt that this was a woman of substance who, in refusing to compromise her self, her traditions and her music, leaves a powerful impression onscreen and on the memory of any audience. She certainly had a lasting effect on the two men who are ostensibly the focus of these two films.
Aidan Moffat says early on that the simple idea behind Where You’re Meant To Be was to have a giggle, touring the country and performing his adaptations of Scottish traditional songs. Most of these are originally rooted in the country, part of a rural Scotland that Moffat, and much of modern Scotland, doesn’t easily identify with. At one point he asks why folk songs have to be about hills and heather? Why can’t they be about glass and neon? That’s what he tries to install to into these songs in his own style, and there is little doubt his tongue is firmly in his cheek when he does so (his filmed homages to Tom Weir and Robert The Bruce only confirm this). And then he meets Sheila. Continue reading