Wednesday 9 February 2022

Living Proof

Sarah Neely

Living Proof: A stunning new archive documentary that looks for the roots of the climate crisis in Scotland’s post-war history, directed by Dr Emily Munro. The event was organised as part of the Film Archives course, convened by Dr Sarah Neely, Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies.

Living Proof trailer

On December the 7th, the Department of Film and Television Studies hosted a special event celebrating Dr Emily Munro’s new archival film, Living Proof.  Munro, a former doctoral student and graduate of the FTV, introduced the film.   

Living Proof explores the country’s complex relationship to the global climate crisis through film and music. In this new feature-length documentary from Scotland’s Moving Image Archive, curated footage evocatively shows how our environment has been shaped by the demand for energy, industry and growth, soundtracked by Scottish musicians past and present.

In the film, Munro frames Scotland’s post-war history through the lens of the current debate, inviting audiences on a journey to revisit the promises of the past and consider how they relate to our future on this planet. Was climate change inevitable? Can we break free from a boom-and-bust mentality? Are we able to adapt to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for generations to come?

Living Proof is part found-footage mash-up in the vein of Joe Dante’s The Movie Orgy and part archive collage, with echoes of Virginia Heath’s From Scotland with Love. There is no overarching narrative imposed onto the film; instead, the players from the past tell their own stories. Corporate voices selling an idea, a technology (and even a country) contrast with the activists setting out their principles for change. If we read Living Proof as an environmental drama then the landscape is the stage, laid out for extractive policies and practices. The development of Scotland in the last century has been determined by our understanding of our natural environment and our place in the world, with ambition and vision heralding the promise of fortune. But questions of ‘why’ and ‘what next’ are left for us to consider.

The soundtrack features music by contemporary Scottish artists Louise Connell, Brownbear and Post Coal Prom Queen traverses time and space alongside composers Ian Whyte, Frank Spedding, John Maxwell Geddes and David McNiven (Bread, Love and Dreams), whose works feature in the archive. Powerful musical sequences amplify the voices of the past and present; not only those who live in our time, but those of the amateur filmmakers, demonstrators and people whose stories are unheard in the corporate narratives.

Following the film, the film’s director was joined by Dr Dominic Hinde for a discussion and Q&A. Dominic is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University, whose research focuses on climate change and environmental communication.

Living Proof is a partnership project between the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive and Film Hub Scotland.

Related event

Living Proof: A Climate Story