The Final Stretch


At this point in the Film Festival, nearer the end than the beginning, I always feel I’ve seen hardly anything, I always seem to have missed the films everyone’s talking about, though this year I did at least catch I AM BREATHING, led to it partly by the fact that it’s made by friends. It’s also brilliant. It may get a national release.

Yesterday I saw another friend’s film, DUMMY JIM by Matt Hulse, based on the published journal of James Duthie, a deaf Scotsman who in 1951 cycled to the Arctic Circle (he set off for Morocco but it was getting too hot as he neared Spain so he changed his mind). Duthie’s homespun, naive reactions to the people and places he encounters form just one layer of a playful, experimental film which creates a kind of magical simultaneity — as Duthie rides North, the actor playing the role records his VO in a Ramones T-shirt, a tombstone is carved for the real man, a commemorative certificate is hand-drawn (mega-closeups of cross-hatching form a 3D landscape, ink-lines bulging wetly from paper), pastries are prepared, and a school play is rehearsed in Duthie’s hometown (or near it). All this interwoven with Duthie’s 16mm home movies of his 3000-mile trip.

DUMMY JIM (OFFICIAL TRAILER) Directed by Matt Hulse from Matt Hulse on Vimeo.

Several years and at least one gear in the making, DUMMY JIM is a triumph of originality and probably the most charming Scottish film since Bill Forsyth’s heyday. As a deaf Scottish cyclist, my Dad really needs to see this film, but he’s broken his arm coming off his bike and can’t go. But  you’ll be there, yes?


Me at the Q&A after the first screening of NATAN, holding the Natan mask.

Tomorrow — NATAN screens again. Industry screening in morning, public in the evening (8:30). Please come to the public if you have the choice — tickets still available. We have reports of tears being shed by strong men and women, but nobody is depressed — righteously angry, maybe, but also inspired.

Plus, despite a scarcity of press coverage at this year’s festival, we have two good reviews: 1 and 2.


Lenick Philippot, Bernard Natan’s grand-daughter; yours truly; co-director Paul Duane; Diane Henderson of EIFF.

2 Responses to “The Final Stretch”

  1. I love the “Alas, Poor Yorick” feel of that picture. I can’t wait to see Natan, Dave!

  2. Soon, I hope!

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