Halesworth - Films/Festivals

Aldeburgh Doc Fest 2017

Aldeburgh Doc Fest-3

Not sure if I was going to make it – Barry down with the acronym after Shingles and hit bad. But I did, driving up from London in the Boxer camper. This year, no Rupert and an addition of Bobji. Two dogs and I, November, Aldeburgh. The Doc Fest is under new management – Jill Green (married to Anthony Horowitz)- replacing the warm and familiar Diana Quick, who does come and sit in for some of the festival. Good for her.

The first night is clear and warm with gentle south wind and almost full moon. My moon partner came to Row 2 to hug me. Her father has just died. She is fragile. An orphan now. The end generation.


Baltimore girls. African American, of single parent mother only, multiple brothers and sisters, first generation to college. It’s Step, the street dance, that enlivens them. Anyone can do it. big, small, triangular or round. Empowerment.
‘My mother, she’s a magic wand in human form. Once we were homeless, and I never knew it’, the young girl laughs.
PhD – Pretty Hungry and Determined.
The absent fathers.

David Lammy (the only black man in Aldeburgh) MP for Tottenham, our guest speaker after the film, was magic. He used his hands, his fingers, so expressively. Five fingers, five points. He too comes form a family with no father. His sister is the dancer. His daughter adopted. Connection to Grenville Khadija Saye. He’d not seen the film before, yet grasped it, danced with it’s ideas, extrapolated. Very impressive. A smart and warm politician.

Night walk to the Martello tower, fishermen out. Does the moon make a difference, I ask. Only to the higher tide, he answered.

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Warm night, Bobji’s first camp. Great walk out in to the marshes come morning, seeing the moon set, sun rise. Early morning Earl Grey tea at Wentworth to charge the phone. Yes, Michael Brett is still the owner, the woman I recognised from the Anchor says. I measure the time. 10 years ago, I was here with Barry for a week, celebrating my 50th.

I will not live in one of these
Sea fronted homes, living rooms
illuminated by standard lamps
(wooden boats or oyster catchers
obligatory in windows)
While I once desired, dreamed aspired
Now I stay in a campervan
Just outside, beside the clinks of sailing boats
(another half imagined dream)
And feel content to be so free
to look through windows of
a different lives.

Musicals! With Alan Yentob

A Jewish Legacy

Irving Berlin, Rogers, Hart, Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Kert Weil

Yes, all Jewish or with ADD! American Yiddish Theatre was the first cradle for this immigrant fraternity, arriving with with nothing but their culture intact on Ellis Island to New York Brooklyn.

1919 – Swannee – Gershwin – Jolson singing. Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, Porgy and Bess. Gershwin was the melting pot, he opened the possibilities., mixing jazz, blues and Jewish traditional songs.

Minor key – Jews must be unhappy!

It Ain’t necessarily so. In the song, “Bar’chu et adonai ham’vorach”, at the beginning of the blessing before reading from the Torah

Rogers and Hammerstein – Manhattan, immigrants to New York. 1940s and 1950s, Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music. About other minorities, not about their own story.

Cole Porter – not Jewish but imitated

God bless America – How can a Jew write this? Heart felt.

Fiddler on the Roof – finally Jewish. What’s it all about – traditions

Sondheim – Send in the Clowns

La Cage Aux Folles (1983)

Mel Brooks The Producers. How to get even. ‘I thought I was taller’. Most of my life spent making people laugh about Hitler.

Interview with Alan Yentob, not Oxbridge but Sorbonne.

The Workers Cup

The workers who build the stadiums for Qatar 2022, exposing a modern day slavery, enabled through a dream to be discovered. It’s the dream which drives these black Africans to pay thousands to the shipper and leap into slavery. The possibility of being spotted by an Arab master – who don’t play football it seems. A film without women. No women allowed. In a treeless landscape. A camp.

‘If you say camp in my country, they’d say we were refugees with UN written on the roof of our camp. So tell them that I’m here to play football.’

Brimstone – castles of Fire

Bulls and towers of fire.  Sara is right, no central character emerges to engage us. A mother whose son dies under the burning bull, but who’s son is the son, and what becomes of him and is he the one climbing into the burning bull? Vertigo as the man climbs the tower (with camera on head) to install the Catherine Wheel. He lights the whole sequence with his cigarette.

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Sunday morning

How could I not want to get up and run on such a morning. Sun sharp morning once again full moon sinking over the marshes as the sun rises over the sea. After I settle into the rhythm of the run, my mind turns to my friend Sara, who it turns out was so worried about my wood in s recent wind, that she drove up to check out the particular branch she was concerned about. ‘Not that I could do anything’, she summerised.

Syria – City of Ghosts

Raqqa Told by citizen journalists.
Short history unfolds: The before, weddings, just an ordinary guy

Raqqa was the city that revolted against Assad. ‘We just wanted freedom from 40 years of Assad.’ Inspired by the Arab Spring 2012

Into this hole first came the good fighters

Then came ISIS. At first like any militant group. Then they painted the city black. Public beheadings, heads on city gates. Reminded me of Tudor England

The journalists: Aziz, Mohamed, Hamoud,

To publicise their plight to the world, they set up a web site Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently

The Uncle – the one who taught them the power of media – was the first to die under torture.

The citizen journalists then fled one group to Turkey the other to Germany.

‘I want to get married before I die’

Brutal film clips of ISIS torturing the father of Hamoud. Hamoud watches. Like Bake Off, the executioner pause before he execute’s Hamouds father.

We watch as an ax falls on hands.

ISIS campaign against Satalite dishes.

The first glimpses of happiness is when they arrive in Germany.

Then a German demonstration against immigration. Deport them, they shout. It feels sickening to watch

Finally ISIS comes out into Paris, London, Germany. The journalises are jubillent, now perhaps the world will listen and see and help us.

At the end I remember the opening shot, the Raqqa journalists are to receive an award. A young American photographer says to Hamoud, ‘Smile can’t you, smile for the camera.’ His expression does not alter. You know why.

Discussion Panel Nick Robinson compared, Jeremy Bowden Tim someone

Requiem – the biggest lose is that of hope

Danger has a special taste.

Bravery of citizen journalist. And for what? The world turns back. Everyone appears cross with Obhama for not acting in 2013. The Syrians were petrified of the American intervention, then realising nothing was going to happen, turned and laughed.

Fist time journalists are the target – they used to be considered neutral.

Even if ISIS destroyed, still a battle of ideas

A question to Bowman – how do you cope – opened up an honest vulnerable aspect to the confident worldly journalist. With difficulty, he replied. I suffer from PDSD, depression. I should be in the Sudan right now, but could not go, as I felt the depression coming on.

According to both Bowman and Tim the most challenging is the Fake News.

Assad – Alawite minority, branch of Shia, Sunni popular scared of Shia in Bagdad. Kurdish Syrian Democratic forces – Turks won’t allow that. So many forces, so many different interests, and involvement of external countries.

Root causes, a grievance of sorrows.

Assad’s pitch is – I told you so.

Discussion on the explicit content of the documentary. Are journalists becoming complicity with the ISIS plan?  We don’t show enough, we don’t show the horror. Should we show the horror? The Telegraph has a line – no dead bodies – that they cannot cross. How to show the Rwandan massacre?

An excellent question from the floor – What’s the difference between intersession and interference?  Moral came the answer, for moral reasons, we should not tolerate such human behaviour.

And later I think – what war have we fought on a moral basis (rather than power, axis, raw materials?) Not one I can think of And as Sheila later observed to me, what terrorist fights for something other than a moral reason? None that we could think of.

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Asef Kapadia

Director of Senna, Amy and forthcoming Maradonna.
Thin long fingers eloquent. Indian. Non of that western peacock.


  • No technical details please. Blue is good, red is bad, down to that
  • No talking heads  – looking on YOUTUBE saw that Senna said it all, did it all. If i’d got a talking head of Prost he would have said how wonderful Senna was, but when they were on the track they were enemy warriors. Rivals no hiding.
  • Access to Bernie Ecclesteins archive, showed the drivers before the race meeting, with Senna fixated on safety. The best decision is my decision. Room full of egos, about to do life threatening thing. Respect for the long gone camera man, whoes job it was just to single shot record, but who followed the drama, close up on Senna.


  • She’s where I’m from North London. Again no personal connection.
  • Where we had a Senna expert, no expert here. No script.
  • Whereas everyone universally loved Senna, Amy was so much darker and more complex. One year after her death.
  • No one spoke at first. But the raw was good, first tie for many to open up. 120 people interviewed.
  • Amy stopped talking. But I found the story in the words of her songs. Back to Black. Found the clip on another artists movie randomly in Holland.
  • Most people thought Amy a train crash about to happen. Few realised her talent.
  • Everyone guilty and implicated. Yes, her father, in particular.


  • Work in progress Still alive.

Pecking Order

New Zealand film
Jason and his neighbour introduced us to some of the basics of chickens, and their names, Silky (not really waterproof) Leg Horn, Black and red

Poultry pageantry. Bantum and Pigeon Fancy Club. Christchurch poultry club is 148 years old
Egg map of the world with hilarious captions.

Fiz with Mary and Terry. Mary fresh from walking through Afganisthan. She is ambivalent about her sister, whose lived her life in the US, and is now returning to find a place near Aldeburgh. Meanwhile Terry’s sister is dyeing to young.

Walk not run up Aldeburgh sea front. The well healed. The home I almost bought. The one I wish I had. Happy to be exiting out to Halesworth, shop in Co-op, amongst friends and strangers.

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