Three Short Films on Hawks and Men

video, shot in HD video,
14 minutes,
2009


Three Short Films on Hawks and Men was filmed in Northumberland, a particularly wild part of England, on the border with Scotland.
Fell, the first of the three films follows three men and their hawks as they hunt on the fell. ‘Fell’ has many meanings—mountain, skin, piercing, deadly. His Brilliant Eye is a quote from The Peregrine by J.A. Baker, in which the author obsessively pursues peregrine falcons, almost becoming one in the process. Here, the focus is the ‘focus’ and the tension and connection between bird, dog and hunter. Garden is a view of the hunter’s garden, his constructed natural habitat, home to his captive goshawks, peregrines and budgerigars.

Three Short Films on Hawks and Men is the latest work in a cycle of films working with birds of prey and their handlers. Grouped together in The Department of Eagles, the series explores the physical and symbolic dimensions of birds of prey and examines the cultural role that falcons and eagles play in the world today. In particular speed and flight are two of the modernist tropes that are laid bare in their relation to killing, but also as modernist tropes. Film can’t keep up with real speed. The Hawk and The Tower and Capture explore how an object/building/place or combination of animal/object might perceive its surroundings, and how the recording of this perspective has the potential to transform our relations to space and to what we see.

‘Three Short Films on Hawks and Men’, together with the film ‘Harry’ was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst. It was exhibited in Interspecies, Cornerhouse, Manchester, and A Foundation, Shoreditch, London, 2009.
www.artscatalyst.org
An essay by Helen Macdonald about the work is featured in Antennae issue 13. [PDF download]