MY FATHER AND ME | WE’VE BEEN WATCHING
Dir: Nick Broomfield (15, 95 mins)
A very personal documentary from Nick Broomfield, where the man behind such works as Kurt And Courtney and Aileen: Life And Death Of A Serial Killer turns the lens on himself, his father and family in a revealing, moving film. Broomfield’s dad, whom he always called Maurice, was himself an incredibly accomplished photographer of industry. Maurice’s pictures capture the wonder and drama of the workplace: everything from glass blowing factories to linen makers and steelworkers, his working-class roots fashioning a love of craftsmanship and the common man.
Broomfield does his own excavations into his family history in a personal Who Do You Think You Are, which manages to subtly chronicle the history of the last century as well as reveal familal relationships. His mother Sonia was a Czech Jew escaping Nazism, his grandfather Gogo had been at the liberation of Belsen, but Broomfield knew nothing of his Jewish history till his 20s. Maurice’s mother Daisy was sceptical of this foreign wife who was more hardheaded and pragmatic than his romantic father. It seemed like an often idyllic childhood, but was punctuated with trauma and falling outs: Broomfield was sent to boarding school after being expelled and went his own way as a film maker, failing to understand the legacy of his father’s photography and what they had subconsciously instilled in him.
Told with real love and affection, Broomfield shows how his own work has been influenced by the family that created him, especially his father, and how a real reconciliation came about between them and an appreciation of each other’s work. My Father And Me is an absorbing, fascinating documentary that laments the loss of industry and triumphs the idea of living for the moment. Maurice himself remarried at 78, following the death of Sonia years earlier, and went to Mexico in a camper van with his new wife Susie. The questioning and enjoyment in life is paramount, and Broomfield has created a quite wonderful love letter to his father.
Available now on BBC iPlayer. Info: here
words KEIRON SELF