The life of British post-war photographer Maurice Broomfield is examined by his son, documentary veteran Nick Broomfield, whose own confrontational style lies at odds with his father’s steadfast pacifism.
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Filmmaker Nick Broomfield has played a large role in popularising the self-reflective documentary subgenre, in which making the film is itself the subject of the film, over his four-decade career. In his latest feature, however, he stops chasing the powerful and dangerous to instead memorialise his photographer father, Maurice Broomfield.
Maurice is credited as being one of Britain’s foremost photographers following the end of World War II, known for his elaborately staged scenes of industry, casting workers as the protagonists in England’s industrial boom. With skillfully applied lighting, contrived scenes and posed employees, the photographer created beautiful, if artificial, records of the nation’s industrial apex.
The father’s approach to art is wholly different from the son’s, and these ideological differences form the entry point of the documentary. Having come of age in the 70s, Nick lived through the bust [NP1] of the industrial economy that had so inspired his father. His documentary practice would be characterised by gritty realism and attention to social ills.
Despite the gulf separating their craft, father and son maintained a loving relationship, as My Father and Me demonstrates with plenty of affection-filled home movie footage, along with the filmmaker’s own thoughtful interrogation of this foundational relationship.
Warm and insightful, the film is as much about the ideas and actions that ruled the 20th century as it is the intricacies of life for a family of creatives. My Father and Me is a moving look at how the past shapes the present and how difference can breed respect. — Adrian Hatwell