A University of Aberdeen alumnus will be back on campus this week for a screening of his new documentary and to take part in a panel discussion
Danny Strong who undertook his MSc in Ecology and Conservation at the University’s School of Biological Sciences, is bringing his award-winning production, The Bough Breaks, to King’s Conference Centre as part of the North East Scotland Ecology Network Symposium on Friday, October 6.
The film, produced by Mousehole Films, documents the work of visionary conservationist and ecologist, Alan Watson Featherstone and his charity Trees For Life which has been restoring Scotland's ancient Caledonian forest since the 1980s.
Danny, who graduated from the University in 2019, said: “I first met Alan Watson Featherstone as a volunteer at Trees for Life in 2014. That encounter was a bit of a watershed moment for me. I came back from that first visit really inspired. So, I went back a couple more times, and the idea of a film about Alan and rewilding grew from there. This coincided with a family decision to start our own small production company and so began the genesis of this film.
“Mousehole Films is a family business. Caroline, Gabriel and I have backgrounds in Ecology, Conservation & Environment, Theoretical Physics & STEM, Creative Media and the Arts which enables us to produce moving, standalone stories that we hope educate, challenge, and inspire.”
The Bough Breaks also explores the wider Rewilding movement; how its model of large-scale forest restoration, can mitigate some of the global conservation and climate crises, currently threatening life on Earth. Alan's personal journey illustrates the urgency for more individual responsibility in the stewardship of our planet and the enormous legacy one man can gift to the future, by staying true to his personal vision. Contributors to the film include George Monbiot, Roy Dennis MBE, Shaila Rao, Louise Ramsay, Sophie Ramsay, Paul Ramsay, Molly Doubleday, Lynn Bowser Dr Duncan Halley, Dr David Hetherington and Dr Louise Ross. They discuss why the actions of this pioneer of Rewilding are so profound, considering the challenges we face and why it is so vital that we follow his lead, taking personal responsibility for the changes we want to see, in order to mend our broken planet.
The documentary is accompanied by an original score from pianist and composer Alan Fowler, accompanied by New York based soloist Zosha Warpeha on Hardanger d'Amore. The film is co-directed and produced by Danny and Caroline Strong, with Gabriel Strong as assistant producer.
After the screening there will be an opportunity for audience members to participate in a panel discussion and Q&A with the creators and contributors to The Bough Breaks.
Danny continued: “It is brilliant to be screening the film at the University of Aberdeen, where I studied for my MSc in Ecology and Conservation. The School of Biological Sciences has given me such a solid background and deepened my respect and understanding of wildlife and habitats. I am so grateful for all the support I was given by the inspiring staff here, in helping me realise what I could achieve. Everything I learned there informs on all that I do now, both, in conservation and in filmmaking.
“I have always been connected to nature, but I first picked up a camera aged about 11, to film the wildlife on Aboyne Loch during a family holiday. That very first time I was lucky and came back with footage of an otter. Caroline realised I had an eye for it and from that point on I was encouraged to keep the camera work and the conservation work running parallel, which I am incredibly grateful for as it has led to the production of The Bough Breaks, which we are all so proud of.”
The Bough Breaks has already been nominated for a number of awards and was named Winner of Best Environmental Fim and Best Editing at the Cinematography and Photography Awards (London) August 2023. It is also a finalist at the Close:Up Edinburgh Docufest, taking place in December, a finalist in the Denver Monthly Film Awards, nominee for Best Documentary at the Next Generation Indie Film Awards (USA) in October. Official Selection at Ecocine International Environmental & Human Rights Film Festival (Brazil) in November, and received an Honourable Mention for Directing and Finalist in the Best Documentary category at AIMAFF (Athens) June 2023.
Director of the University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Environment and Biodiversity, Professor David Burslem said: “Alan Watson Featherstone is an iconic figure for conservation in Scotland, and one of the founders of the global rewilding movement. Danny and his collaborators on The Bough Breaks bring to life his vision and achievements and explain how his work has so radically affected our approach to conserving nature and the environment.
“We are delighted to welcome Danny back to the University of Aberdeen for this screening of his award-winning film, along with a distinguished panel including many of Scotland’s most inspiring advocates for conservation. We anticipate a lively evening of discussion and debate on the way forward for conservation in Scotland.”
The film screening and panel discussion will take place from 7pm-9pm on Friday, October 6. The event is free to attend however booking is essential. Please visit Film Screening and Panel Discussion: The Bough Breaks Tickets, Fri 6 Oct 2023 at 19:00 | Eventbrite for more information and to book your spot.