I worked with Burning Bridges/Fifth Column Films to get production off the ground for this unique documentary. Widely regarded as the 20th century’s most important singer of English traditional song, Shirley Collins is someone who was born to invoke the old songs.
Partly inspired by her beguiling autobiography America Over the Water, the film planned to retell the tale of the famous song-collecting trip she took around the Deep South of America with legendary field-recordist Alan Lomax, blended with a celebration of her role in the folk revival of the 50s, 60s and 70s, when – amongst many other achievements – she and her sister Dolly produced the era’s most defining monuments in their seminal albums Anthems in Eden and Love, Death and the Lady. Largely forgotten outside hardcore folk circles due to her enforced absence from the world stage, the film will also reclaim Shirley and her sister’s contribution to music for posterity.
In the process of filming, the film-makers discovered there was more to the story than they’d expected, and documented Collins’ triumphant return to singing with her album Lodestar, released to critical acclaim in 2016.
“Deliberately eschewing a straightforward biopic approach, Rob Curry and Tim Plester ‘Way of the Morris’, is a lyrical response to the life-and-times of a totemic musical figure. Granted intimate access to recording sessions for Shirley’s first album (Lodestar) of new recordings in almost four decades, the film also features contributions from the comedian Stewart Lee and David Tibet of Current 93 What emerges is a meditative and carefully textured piece of portraiture. A timely delve into the arterial blood, loam and tears of our haunted island nation.”
Completed and released in 2017, the film received its world premiere at the 2017 BFI London Film Festival.
“A remarkable account of loss and redemption, sacrifice, healing and rebirth… during these turbulent and increasingly untethered times, we might just need Shirley Collins’ wise, weathered and comforting voice.” – BFI
“Music Documentary Of The Year” – Louder Than War
“A fine documentary about one of the great voices of British folk music” – 8/10 Uncut