MANCHESTER INDIE FILM: Broken Britain (2009)

Filmmaker from Future Artists Mark Ashmore says he has never been in the military before, nor has he served in it – but he says that he can really understand it politically, which is why he made a film about UK soldiers returning home.

Runtime: 16:08mins / Audio: Stereo /Starring: Aaron Rochford, Brian Hook, Danny Stewart, Mark Gera / Director: Mark Ashmore

THE VERY SHAKY CAMERA follows hooded figures heading for a war memorial. The scene is black and white; we cannot see their faces. Stalking closer and closer  until, finally, the man with almond eyes and strong jawline crouches. He lays down a small wreath.

Broken Britain, also known as ‘Big Boys Don’t Send Postcards’ is about challenging the often shallow preconceptions of those who are serving in the Forces and moreover, tackling the prejudice and unjustified discrimination that many face on their return.

Set on a night out in a local, the boys Lewis, Sick Boy, Tommo and Terry are up for a night on the town – to pay respects to the woman who didn’t make it home. Unfortunately, new club management have a different idea and have banned soldiers from their premises. Far-fetched?

Or actually – based on reality?


Hotel Turns Away Soldier

Wounded Soldier Denied Entry to Pub

Soldiers Turned Away From Bar After Funeral

The film is very indie, and has a fairly amateur quality to it, but it seems to work for the people involved in this film who really like it. There is a deeper back story here that must thread through all the snippets of tension which lead to the brawl. Broken Britain is a short film, and it is a social film, and in this sense, it is jarring. This might be the whole point of it.

To be fair, the handheld camerawork and unforgiving bursts of sound are cohesive with the amateur/Mark Ashmore style that it all adapts to.

Gemma Windle who plays Amy, the Army wife of Lewis, is very believable in her role as a working class woman with trouble brooding within. This is only a small credit to how well-cast the film is.

Ashmore’s Broken Britain has been out for a year, but with over 100 days of a coalition government in this year that saw one of the bloodiest months for the UK in Afghanistan – which was June – the film is a stark reminder of how the years have added up and yet deployed troop numbers remain high.

There are still approximately 10,000 counter-insurgency troops in Afghanistan today.

With current UK Prime Minister David Cameron claiming that he wants to see troops out “in five years” whilst at the same time saying he did not want to “deal in too strict timetables”,  the US indecisive as to  whether it should withdraw troops by next summer yet already beginning a large-scale withdrawal of troops “above target” in Iraq, could Broken Britain be a glimpse into the further disrespect of British veterans fighting in the wars of old governments?

Mark Ashmore wants to let everyone know about his campaign to give a free pint to soldiers in his pub:


Help for Heroes & FUTURE ARTISTS

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    […] This article is the concluding piece of a three-part series on Manchester Indie Film. You can find Part II here and Part I here. […]

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