Like Father DVD
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Amber, UK, 2001, 94 mins, colour.
The last pits have closed, the redundancy money has been spent and a family is in crisis. 70 year old pigeon man Arthur Elliott is losing his allotment to the local authority’s coastal redevelopment scheme. Working as a trumpeter, teacher, club singer and club act agent, his son, 40 year old ex-miner Joe can just about scrape a living, but his marriage is breaking up. 10 year old Michael is left to grapple with his own realities as coalfield culture begins to disintegrate. Three generations struggle to come to terms with the past and find the ties that still bind them; three worlds unfold against the rich and extraordinary backdrop of East Durham.
The stories around which the film was developed originated in actual lives and the unfolding of real events. Incorporating documentary situations, the film draws strong performances from local people with no previous acting experience: Ned Kelly as Arthur, Jonathon Dent as Michael and Joe Armstrong, himself an ex-miner, both taking the role of Joe and writing the brass band suite which features in the film.
Like Father is the second film in Amber’s coalfield trilogy. The Scar (1997) explored women’s lives in the aftermath of the failed Miners’ Strike of 1984 and the closure of Durham’s last pit in 1993. The third film, Shooting Magpies (2005) looks at the post industrial generation and the impacts of heroin in the colliery villages of East Durham.