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Film Of The Week My Father and Me

MARIA DUARTE is moved by a complex and fascinating love letter from a filmmaker son to his photographer father

My Father and Me
Directed by Nick Broomfield

 

AFTER making films about a serial killer, a Hollywood madam, rappers and troubled rock stars, Nick Broomfield turns his focus on his father, Britain’s most pre-eminent industrial photographer Maurice Broomfield, in this complex and fascinating love letter.

In his most intimate and personal film to date, he explores their complicated and troubled relationship — emanating from stark differences in their approach to work, their outlook on life and their class backgrounds — while celebrating his father’s extraordinary photographs, which captured the beauty and might of British industry after the second world war.

His working-class father — who wanted to be called Maurice at all times — was a factory worker turned photographer, a romanticist and a pacifist through and through. His stunning photographs — frankly, works of art — romanticised factory life, something which his wife (Nick’s mother), who came from an intellectual family, criticised him for.

In turn Maurice was very critical of his son’s photos and films, which he found chaotic and too realistic: “Maurice’s moment was beautifully crafted. My moment was born out of chaos and confusion, when forces collided,” reveals the filmmaker.

Raised as a Quaker with a middle-class upbringing in the south, Broomfield only learned he was Jewish in his 20s. His mother was a Jewish refugee, whose family had escaped from the Nazis in Czechoslovakia.

His maternal grandfather Gogo, who did not believe Maurice was good enough for his daughter, was with the British army when they liberated Bergen-Belsen.

Through family home videos and interviews with relatives, friends and people who knew Maurice, Broomfield paints a detailed and captivating portrait of a formidable artist, father, husband and man who celebrated the lives of working people, and how he and his father finally reconciled.

Maria Duarte

Airing on BBC2 at 9.45pm March 20, available to stream on iPlayer thereafter.

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