Controversial salmon family come to the big screen

A major new documentary follows one tense summer as Scotland’s last family of traditional salmon netters find themselves a target for activists, conservationists, anglers and river owners.

Controversial film Of Fish and Foe tours UK cinemas from 26 July, with Glasgow and London previews from 10 July

Following its UK premiere at Glasgow Film Festival 2019, Andy Heathcote and Heike Bachelier’s Scotland-shot feature documentary Of Fish and Foe will screen at cinemas across the UK.

The film – which strives to present a neutral picture of an incredibly controversial and divisive topic- follows the tense, real life skirmishes when a family of Scottish fishermen find themselves a target for activists, conservationists, anglers and river owners.

The Pullar family from Angus have been fishing for salmon along the North and East coasts of Scotland for generations. However animal and conservation activists have declared war on the fishermen because they shoot seals if they steal salmon from their nets.

The river owners and the anglers have also joined the fracas because they want the net fisherman out of the way so that more valuable salmon will come up their rivers, offering a prize haul to those wealthy sportsmen able to pay thousands for the privilege.

John Pullar said: ‘We are one of the most hated families in Scotland.’

His brother Kevin added: ‘How would you like to be constantly followed by masked activists, filming your every move although you’re doing nothing wrong?’.

The film is told over a single summer in a tense 90 minutes of confrontation as the family tries to hold out against impossible odds.

Fife-based co-directors Andy Heathcote and Heike Bachelier, whose previous feature documentary The Moo Man followed a maverick organic dairy farmer, said: ‘We had always found the traditional way of net fishing for salmon very beautiful but we also knew it was very controversial.

‘In 2015 the last of Scotland’s remaining salmon fishermen were coming under attack from all sides, including from direct action environmental groups. We questioned how much longer this way of life could survive. But we also wondered if the fishermen were really were as bad as their enemies made out. Things didn’t make sense and so we decided to find out more.

‘What happened next came as a total surprise and little did we realise it would be the final season for a tradition going back to the Vikings.

‘We want audiences to approach the film with an open mind. We hope the film shows how things are often not that black and white. Environment, conservation, traditions and cultures are all intertwined but when they collide it can and did get messy. And did the right one win? That’s for the audience to decide.’

Of Fish and Foe’s cinema tour is supported by Screen Scotland and The National Lottery through Creative Scotland.