Members of the Bradford Movie Makers watching a screening in 'A bunch of Amateurs'
Members of the Bradford Movie Makers in 'A bunch of Amateurs'

A Bunch of Amateurs – A heartfelt, heartbreaking look into cinema

5 mins read

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Bunch of Amateurs (2022) follows a working-class film-makers’ club in Bradford, Leeds through the highs and lows of the last few years. The ‘Bradford Movie Makers’ is one of the oldest amateur film-making clubs in the UK dating back to 1932, but in recent years, membership began to die off. 

Bradford was a hub for film in the beginning of cinema, with one of the club members even saying that if it wasn’t for WW2 it could have been what Hollywood is now. With many of the members having been in the club during its glory years their journey into the new reality of The Bradford Movie Makers creates an interesting narrative focused on the lost art of amateur filmmaking.

Opening with one of the older member’s insistence on recreating the opening sequence of Oklahoma!, the song ‘Oh what a beautiful morning’ was seeded throughout giving a feeling of optimism as the club went through difficult times. It made the documentary cohesive and reminded everyone of what the club was really about behind everything else. 

The documentary beautifully shows the complex lives of the members of the club in the context of their working-class backgrounds. The mix of showing their lives inside and outside the film club created an interesting set of characters with flaws and triumphs. The club is filled with bickering and many, many cups of tea. Bradford Movie Makers’ purpose is to combat loneliness in its members as much as it is to make and enjoy films.

The team filmed throughout Covid, right from the beginning. The pandemic was obviously unplanned when A Bunch of Amateurs began and there was one scene that stood out within the Covid material. The meeting where the movie makers decided whether they were going to continue with meeting in person after the government began recommending that people stop seeing each other in person felt incredibly intense in our hindsight. Despite being shown as mundane and reasonably casual, it was incredibly stressful to watch especially with the connections made with the older characters in the group. 

As the club mainly consisted of older members it was able to give a very raw perspective of elderly loneliness during lockdown. The struggle with Zoom and FaceTime, the letters through the door informing them they’re at higher risk, was an uncomfortable reminder of how bleak that time was. 

One problem with the documentary was that the timeline was difficult to follow. There were not many references to what year it was or how much time had passed between parts of the documentary. It leaned on visual and cultural things to give the audience cues as to when this was taking place like Harry and Meghan’s wedding or the Prime Minister’s Covid announcement.

The film had an uncanny ability to be hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. The Northern charm of the people involved made them effortlessly funny with quick wit and one-liners. That loveable charm is what then made it devastating to watch them go through personal difficulties and deal with loss and fear and even a pandemic. 

A Bunch of Amateurs shows that the mundane isn’t mundane, and that every single person has a story to tell. Tradition and history still mean something to the Bradford Movie Makers and their determination to add something to the world through cinema is inspiring and moving. 

Cinema originated in being about community and connection and through the Bradford Movie Makers and A Bunch of Amateurs ,it’s clear this aspect of cinema should never die and will never die as long as there are still people there. 

Featured Image Credit: A Bunch of Amateurs / The Guardian

Stirling Choir Concert
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Film, Media and Journalism student who writes about things that catch her interest. Instagram @charlsutcliffe

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