Aldeburgh Doc Fest 2019

Wentworth (conversation ‘Was it a breakdown or did you go to pieces?overheard). as I read Tom Corbet’s Liverpool book, freshly published, years in the making. Beside me, Michael reads the Guardian, of the new Ken Loach film Sorry We missed you. We both recalled I Daniel Blake, seen in our different lives at a different time.


Beautiful documentary set in biblical landscape of North Macedonia, of a woman tending wild hives, caring for her half blind mother. The story is about the neighbours from hell (Turkey) arriving to take a slice of the honey cake. Hatidze, the woman aged my age,  climbs up the hills in sandals, walks over precarious ridges to her bees. where she harvests honey sustainably the traditional way from wild hives. “Half for them, half for me,” she chants, leaving enough for the bees.

Despite their challenges (noise, difference) she nurtures the newcommers, tries to teach them, half for them half for me. Touching relationship between mother and daughter. Eat, chew put your legs down, full of great love and tenderness. The Turkish incomers fail,  pack up and leave. Her mother dies. She packs up her few possessions and the last shot is of her (with a dog) free walking out into the landscape.

It is a parable for our times.

Bill Turnbull (journalist and presenter,  Classic FM presenter) talking with Nicola Bradbear –Bee’s for development.


Cut through Dial road, passed dial house and all those past anticipations of once living here. Who needs a home in Aldebuggh when with a campervan I can open my curtain across the salt marshes? Back in the Wentworth, with generous loo paper and free hot water, we breakfast.

War of Art

Rather than art of war. Jan Green introduces as Nick Robinson is in bed with ‘flu. Set in North Korea. Inspired by a Norwegian artist, he invited other western based artists to expose them to the closed and prescribed culture of North Korea to see what happens. A socio political experiment. A french artist who prints with human blood. Kareoke was the turning point, the ice breaker.

The North Koreans keen to show the visitors their art, but the visitors were not keen to embrace rather than instill their art on North Korea. Self reliance, not being allowed to be influenced.


2011 Arab Spring
2012 University
2014 Bodies in river, split East West
2015 Allepo most damaged city in the world
2016 Seige of Allepo

Syrian film-maker Waad al-Kateab documents both the city’s violent siege and the birth and survival of her daughter. She is a natural film maker. You want to watch her.
Film starts brilliantly with a prequel with Jon Snow interviewing Waad. Their dance is intimate and fascinating.

Mixture of horror and hope. The child looking for his brother. No politics. Just the human story. The hospital bombed, they occupy another building turning it into another hospital. Escape to Turkey to pick up a camera.


Molly Dineen

Last year I sat next to an elegant woman, an Aldeburgh woman who it turned out started this festival 25 years ago inspired by her daughter in law. She died this year, and Molly is her daughter in law who inspired her to start this doc fest.

Home from the Hill – 1980s BBC documentary about Lieutenant-Colonel Hilary Hook‘s return to the UK after living abroad.Was he a racist. Opened with a stationary shot of his garden, with a black man mowing the lawn mover in an out of the camera shot.

The Ark (BBC Two, 1993) – London Zoe

Tony Blair, a short profile of the Prime Minister 1997

Geri (Channel 4, 1999) – Geri Halliwell, A fascinating rollercoaster ride through fame, celebrity and the personality behind that infamous

The Lord’s Tale (Channel 4, 2002) – About the hereditary lords losing their seats in the Lords due to the House of Lords Act 1999. Dineen follows one of Parliament’s greatest upheavals: the abolition of the hereditary peers

The Lie of the Land (Channel 4, 2007) – On the eve of the fox hunting ban, Dineen uncovers the unpleasant thrust of life in the coutryside  where farmers struggle to survive under the weight of government legislation and national indifference towards rural communities


Being Blacker (BBC Two, 2018) – Following three years of Blacker Dread‘s life featuring “Brixton’s Jamaican community and the man who unintentionally became its kingpin”. Going back to her roots, first friendship.

Change is what provokes people to want to talk. People want to talk. But change is a great catalyst and opener, she said. Clearly they talk openly to Molly. You have to like people, she said. She herself is immediately likeable. She recommended a DVD of her complete work on it.

The Biggest Little Farm

Like Rewilding, (and Felicity Kendle the Good Life before) its about 2 people who want to leave city life and set up in harmony with nature. Pests, fires coyotes, biblical events challenge. The more successful they became, the more pests arrived. Even the coyote became useful.

Jason on the stage for questions afterwards. Can this be scaled up, Jason asked. Its about maximisation not optimising. How do we change?Who pays for nutritional quality. 7 years to balance and crop

Children of Snowland

Jan Ethrington in conversation with Zara Balfour.

Set in Dolpo it should have been up my street. it wasn’t. Perhaps influenced by the strength of For Sama, this paled in comparison. The landscape so familiar to me, was boring, often repeated, the frames gve no feeling of progress through the landscape, reaching higher above snow lines, but rather someones view of a ‘beautiful shot’ and then another. The village people, the gompa, the buildings the prayer flats fluttering, non were there. A few classic faces of kids (cleaned up) .

The story of 3 children given up by their families for an education in Kathmandu – a Eliza Doolittle treatment. Returning after their ‘urban experience’ to their pastoral families. Neave, whose mother died in child birth, missed technology . Another pent far too long petrified crossing one of those famous string bridges. Another found the village unhygienic and dirty. Altogether far too sentimental and clunky.

Michael Lasky was there in his trade mark beret. ‘Is this one of the geography’s you have traveled to?’ he asked knowingly.

Nightcap at Wentworth, of Jameson’s whisky. No mob gangsters this time. We drove to our mooring, and had a night walk along the sea shore with our beloved dogs.






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