Scheme Birds Unclassified 18+
Winner of Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival, Scheme Birds is an utterly unforgettable work of cinema verité, a penetrating and compassionate account of teenage life at Scotland’s forgotten margins.
For the teens living in the crumbling industrial town of Motherwell, on Glasgow’s south-eastern fringe, there are two major paths in life: you can be “locked up or knocked up”. That’s according to brash 17-year-old Gemma, a self-declared “top girl” who’s taken the crown by fighting anyone who’d challenge her. Abandoned as an infant by her drug-addicted parents and raised by her doting grandfather, Gemma’s precarious lot is thrown into disarray when she becomes pregnant to the wild, prison-bound Pat and must make her own difficult transition into adulthood.
Playing out with the rich humanity and devastating pathos of an Andrea Arnold film, Scheme Birds is a remarkable piece of documentary storytelling from first time feature filmmakers Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin (who together picked up Tribeca’s Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award). Years in the making and built on an incredible trust between directors and subjects, Scheme Birds delivers a shining exemplar of documentary filmmaking’s power to give voice to the voiceless.
“This extraordinary documentary weighs the bleak details … against moments of lyrical beauty and even humour. It’s a remarkable achievement.” – Screen Daily