Films about filmmaking are often arthouse in style and niche in appeal, but Kim Hopkins’ (Voices of the Sea) documentary is just the kind of scrappy, everyman story that will go down a treat for the masses.
Plying their trade in a leaky, rundown building in the heart of West Yorkshire are the Bradford Movie Makers, members of one of the world’s oldest film club (founded in 1932). However, their longevity has come at a cost. Crippling economic hardship and an ageing membership have left the club five years behind on rent and relying on the mercy of their landlord to keep them afloat. Far removed from the days of packing busses on group outings, the club is down to its last dozen or so members, but still remains just as determined to see out their golden years via the silver screen.
The club’s remaining members meet on a weekly basis to watch their favourite homemade films and engage in hilarious bickering about which projects to embark on next (‘You’re not professional!’, ‘neither are you!’, they argue). Hopkins showcases the club’s collection of quirky, low-budget work in a way that elicits the heartiest of laughs, without making a mockery of their craftsmanship.
When the curtain falls, you’ll really miss these character and their stories
Shot during the pandemic, scenes of the members’ meetings present them as a carefree, eccentric bunch, but their lives away from the club are burdened with responsibility and heartbreaking personal losses. Born in 1933 and the club’s oldest member, Colin lives alone, while his wife resides in a dementia care home. Phil, meanwhile, is the primary carer for his disabled brother. Running alongside their frantic attempts to save the club is a sincere subplot about Harry, who is trying to recreate a scene from Oklahoma! as a tribute to his bedridden wife.
Like a conversation with your grandparents, the film reaches points where it can be a little bit drawn out and repetitive. But when the curtain falls on A Bunch of Amateurs, you’ll really miss these character and their stories.
In UK cinemas now.