Filmmaker Bill Morrison is one of the leading international artists working within the genre of found footage filmmaking. In his previous work, like The Highwater Trilogy (TFF '06) and Release (TFF '10), he often uses shots replete with signs of chemical deterioration and decay. He then refashions these images via digital processing techniques into meditations on the fragility of human existence. In The Miners' Hymns, Morrison shifts his emphasis from decaying footage to stunning black-and-white images that have been preserved in the British National Film Archives. From this raw material, Morrison artfully constructs a story of British coal miners at work below the surface of the earth, together with their vibrant, close-knit community above ground. Morrison intercuts this material with color footage that he himself filmed. These contemporary aerial landscapes of nondescript shopping malls and empty fields of green cover over the now-abandoned collieries situated in Northeast England.
Morrison's compelling narrative pays tribute, in an emotionally moving and formally elegant fashion, to a vanished era of 20th-century working-class life. An original score by avant-garde Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson enriches this tale with a heartrending, elegiac tone.