Somewhere throughout the filmmaking process I lost touch with the heart of my film. I had forgotten exactly what it was that made me want to create and tell this story; and if I'm being honest, I think it began long before I ever began classes. I recognized my connection to Scotland, and my need to know every inch of my genealogical connection to it. I loved tracing the journeys of my many-times-great-grandfather and great-grandmother, and piecing together any information I could surrounding what life must have been like for them. I was searching for memories of them that I did not have. I was hoping to create a collective memory of these people within my family.
As is often the case with genealogical work, there were many holes and many hunches, and very little definitive answers. My film, Leaden Hearts, is an attempt to fill in those holes and answer questions that I know will never be truly answered.
While putting together as much of the puzzle as I could, I matched the dates and location of my ancestors and their emigration to that of the highland clearances. The Highland Clearances being what they were (that is to say that it was a heartbreaking injustice for the highlanders and islanders), I was sad at any injustice my ancestors would have faced. I was hurt at the thought of people not so far removed from myself and my family now, as farmers and working-class people, would be removed purely because of greed. Systems were put in place to allow this to happen, people were treated like they were dispensable, the rich and their greed dominated the land, and so much of a beautiful and colorful culture was lost. When I took a moment to examine just exactly what that meant for those families forced from their homes, it broke my heart.
While brainstorming ideas for my film in semester one I came across a series on PBS that examined objects, their stories, and the memories attached to these objects. The first connection I made was what objects were left behind during the clearances? What was deemed worthy of the journey, and what wasn't? And to take it one step further, what of the people left behind too? While asking these questions I came upon a convict love token. I have written previous posts about this so I won't go into so much detail. But, essentially this very powerful token represented all of the injustice that I found had occurred (or what I assume had occurred) in my family during the clearances. The circumstances were different, but the sentiment and experience was similar enough that I could adapt my story to tell the same thing. Upon doing this I realized that when I adapted my story to that of the stories behind convict love tokens, a greater injustice was addressed - the failing of the judicial system, and how the system was played to benefit an ulterior motive; The rich wanted people out and they used the judicial system to do it.