In 1986, Joanna Hogg's graduation film, Caprice, starred a young actress who had just made her feature debut in Derek Jarman's Caravaggio. Hogg not only reunites with Tilda Swinton on her latest outing, The Souvenir, but she also offers her daughter, Honor Swinton Byrne, her first screen lead, after she had cameo'd as the younger version of her mother's character in Luca Guadagnino's I Am Love (2009). Following on from Unrelated (2007), Archipelago (2010) and Exhibition (2013), Hogg's fourth feature is based on her experiences at the National Film and Television School and has already sparked a sequel, which is currently in production. 

Over a montage of monochrome still photographs, 24 year-old Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) outlines her proposal for a film about a young boy's obsession with his dying mother mirroring the decline of his hometown of Sunderland under Margaret Thatcher's government. It's 1982 and Julie lives in a Knightsbridge flat with her friend, Frankie (Frankie Wilson). She receives regular visits from her mother, Rosalind (Tilda Swinton), who keeps bringing her items to make the place feel more like home. 

During a house party, Julie films her guests with a home movie camera and is particularly taken by Anthony (Tom Burke), a pinstriped young fogey, who chainsmokes and talks about everything with patrician confidence. He takes Julie for tea at a posh hotel and suggests that she looks at the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger because they managed to convey truth without going down the social realist route. However, it's clear from the black-and-white footage that Julie edits on a portable machine in the flat (to the accompaniment of Robert Wyatt's `Shipbuilding') that she is a disciple of the kitchen sink style.

Anthony takes Julie to the Wallace Connection to see Jean-Honoré Fragonard's `The Souvenir', which depicts a young woman carving her lover's name into a tree trunk. He also introduces Julie to his parents, Barbara (Barbara Peirson) and James (James Dodds). They are encouraging about her film project and Anthony exploits their hospitality to ask Julie if he can stay at the flat while Frankie is away with his girlfriend. She readily agrees, but is somewhat taken aback when Anthony suggests that she's special and has a freakish fragility that means she will always be lost. 

Once he's installed, Anthony helps out with the cooking and advises Julie on her film school application letter. He warns her about using glib words like `sincere' and `authentic' and suggests she stresses her passion for film-making rather than making it sound like life has backed her into a worth vocation. They platonically share her bed and he uses her cuddly toys to create a `Wall of Jericho' similar to the one that Claudette Colbert erected when sharing a room with Clark Gable in Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934). When he leaves, however, Anthony says something vague about needing to go to Paris for his Foreign Office job and he sends he an effusive letter of thanks. 

Left alone, Julie studies some street photos on a light box (she's certainly not short of expensive equipment for a novice), while Joe Jackson's `Is She Really Going Out With Him?' plays on the soundtrack. Shortly after Frankie moves out and Julie has her film school interview, Anthony returns with a suspender belt from Paris that signals a shift in their relationship. As they engage in pillow talk, Julie notices a mark on Anthony's arm, but he assures her it's nothing and will disappear in time. The mooch around in their dressing-gowns, with Julie trying to work on a script on her electric typewriter. 

One day, Anthony asks to borrow £10 and Julie thinks nothing of it. When they visit her parents, however, she taps Rosalind for £200 and claims she needs the money for things for college. Over lunch, Anthony mentions his time studying History of Art at Cambridge and expresses some curious views on IRA terrorism over lunch that sets Julie's parents against each other. However, everyone remains civilised and they go for a postprandial walk in the country with the dogs with everyone wearing Sloane Ranger outfits. 

Anthony arranges a supper for Julie to meet Patrick (Richard Ayoade), a director who regards film school as a handy source of cheap equipment. He has nothing but contempt for the tutors, who can only teach rather than make films themselves. But he is also curious as to why Julie (whom he describes as a `trainee Rotarian') is dating a habitual heroin user and she is stunned by the disclosure. Back at the flat, she can't bring herself to confront Anthony and simply stares at him from her pillow, as she wonders what she has got herself into and how she is going to proceed. 

She starts at Raynham Film School, but is excited by the prospect of going to Venice with Anthony. Over lunch in a swanky restaurant (for which she pays with a cheque), he teases her about past girlfriends and tells her to stop making it so easy to torture her. However, she refuses to pry too deeply and sympathises with him when she returns to the flat after a class discussion about withholding information in Alfred Hitchcock's films to find it's been burgled and that her jewellery and film equipment have been stolen. 

Nevertheless, they travel to Venice as planned and she enjoys being fitted for a grey suit and a special gown to wear for their trip to the opera. They ride on the Orient Express and check into a plush hotel. But the need to give the bellboy a tip because Anthony has no money causes Julie to cry and he pleads with her to tell him what he's done wrong, as he can't bear being in her bad books. They make passionate love after returning from Teatro la Fenice. But a cut takes them back to Knightsbridge, where Julie demands to know why Anthony staged the robbery to steal from her. He insists he was trying to protect her from the truth, but they don't discuss his addiction and Julie winds up apologising for being so inquisitive when she knows his job is shrouded in secrecy. 

As news breaks of the Iranian Embassy Siege on the radio, Julie waits in the car while Anthony chats to some youths on a housing estate street. As they drive back, he assures her that the rendezvous was work related. But she is becoming more sceptical and challenges him over his mood while they are going through the proposals she has drawn up for her first Raynham project. He assures her that he has not been using, but she is far from convinced. However, she is too preoccupied with her shoot to allow herself to become distracted, even though she slips out to use the payphone to check up on Anthony between takes. 

Although still finding her way on the set (she bumps into a lamp the cinematographer has just positioned), Julie becomes more confident in handling Anthony and his mood swings. She continues to give him handouts when he goes out and they remain intimate. But, as Béla Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle plays on the soundtrack, she also makes proactive efforts to understand his situation and attends a self-help session for recovering addicts. Consequently, when he returns to the estate to score, she waits in the car knowing what's going on.

The world around them is in flux, however, as a bomb explodes in Harrods while Julie is following a trail of notes that Anthony has left her in the apartment. This coincides with her returning one day to find a complete stranger on the stairs and, shortly afterwards, she asks Anthony to leave when he is arrested. As she has been feeling unwell and has been seeing a doctor who warns her about diseases spread by physical contact, Julie has finally put herself first and takes solace in the concern shown by her classmate, Phil (Tosin Cole). She also has a one-night stand.

When Anthony sends her a letter, however, she agrees to meet him for lunch. They go somewhere expensive and Julie holds his hand, as he breaks down after she plays footsie with him under the table. He moves back in and Julie tries to cope with the agony he endures while going through cold turkey. Despite it all, he remains charming and Rosalind and William (James Spencer Ashworth) chat happily about degree courses during Julie's birthday supper (Anthony claims to have connections at the Courtauld Institute). Moreover, he supports Julie during the shooting of her first project, even leaving her a postcard of `The Souvenir' on the bed after she works late. 

Shortly after Julie goes on a location shoot with her crew and while Rosalind is staying at the flat, Anthony fails to come home and Julie insists on taping a note to the door urging him to ring the doorbell at any time. The next morning, Rosalind takes a call informing them that Anthony had overdosed in the washroom at the Wallace Collection and had not responded to treatment. Julie is devastated and cradles his dressing-gown in bed, as she comes to terms with her loss. She is touched by how upset Rosalind is, although there may well be some relief in her tears that her daughter is no longer in thrall to a manipulative charmer. Returning to the student film set, where an actress recites one of Isabella's speeches from William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Julie turns to look into the camera before opening a large studio door and being silhouetted against the grey morning beyond. 

Counting Martin Scorsese among its executive producers, this elliptical and deceptively experimental film is Joanna Hogg's most personal and curiously conventional to date. As is often the case with her work, there's a trademark awkwardness to some of the dialogue and its delivery, with Anthony's line when he first sleeps with the eager-to-please Julie (`You're a dark horse, Julie') capable of defeating a more experienced actor than Tom Burke. But, clad in Grace Snell's period-perfect costumes, he and Honor Swinton Byrne are equally excellent in rising to the challenge posed by the need to improvise dialogue from the novella-like outline that Hogg prefers to work from. Indeed, these are the best performances in Hogg's canon to date, with Tilda Swinton contributing a splendidly deft turn as a fully fledged Rotarian.

The other characters are pretty much ciphers, although no one makes more of their fleeting appearance than Richard Ayoade, whose bid to `tessellate' the dynamic between the junkie and the naïf is hilariously indiscreet and one waits eagerly to see what Hogg has found for him to do in the follow-up. Necessarily, Burke will be a missed absentee, but he departs with the satisfaction that Hogg had followed Anthony's suggestion to Julie about how connecting with the audience, as this is very much a film that avoids showing life playing out as it is and shows it `as it is experienced in this soft machine'. 

That said, Hogg contributes some of her own furniture to Stéphanie Collonge's immaculate interiors, which is photographed by David Raedecker with a keen eye for detail and significance. Moreover, the snippets we see of Julie's student work come from Hogg's juvenilia. Talked out of the Loachian Sunderland saga by a combination of Anthony's disinterest and the disdain of her smug lecturers, Julie embarks upon a project rooted in her own experience. However, the Raynham sequences are the film's weak link, as we get too little insight into the nature of Julie's new scenario and this withholding (whether consciously Hitchcockian or not) prevents a full appreciation of her growth as a woman and as an artist as a result of the pain caused by her often passive complicity in a doomed romance.

Barnaby Southcombe enters his 50th year this month and he marks the occasion with the release of his second feature. Having spent much of his 18-year career working in television, Southcombe made an impressive debut in directing mother Charlotte Rampling in I, Anna (2012). But he rather marks time with Scarborough, an adaptation of Fiona Evans's 2008 stage play, whose study of transgressive age-gap passion has since been explored in Jane Linfoot's Sea View (2013) and Benedict Andrews's Una (2016), which also started out on the stage, in 2005, as David Harrower's Blackbird. 

As Liz (Jodhi May) checks into the Metropole Hotel in Scarborough, the concierge (Donald York) teases her about requesting a room with twin beds and reminds her that additional guests will cost her. She is joined in the lift to the fifth floor by Daz (Jordan Bolger), a black teenager who can't get her into the room fast enough in order to seduce her. He doesn't last long, however, and stares at his phone, as Liz suggests that they spend some time talking rather than just fooling around. 

En route to their room on the same floor, Aiden (Edward Hogg) and Beth (Jessica Barden) duplicate some of the other's couple's dialogue. The eager Beth can't even wait until they reach the room before she kneels before her teacher. Moreover, she embarrasses Aiden by making loud moaning noises and he has to remind her that they have to be discreet because he is her teacher and, as she is under 18, he can go to prison for sleeping with her. Using her teddy bear to scold him, Beth gives Aiden a homemade framed photo and he regrets that he won't be able to put it up anywhere. She seems disappointed, so he tickles her on the bed to cheer her up.

Making an identical joke about owning her, Daz also gives Liz a photograph and she echoes Aiden's frustration at having to hide what it a genuine connection rather than some sordid affair. Like Beth, Daz is too immature to appreciate the risk that his lover is taking and he also lets out a series of exaggerated moans and takes offence when Liz tries to shut him up and make him behave responsibly. But he also seeks her approval and, like Beth before him with Aiden, assures Liz that he's not ashamed of what they are doing.

On Saturday, Liz and Daz go to the amusement arcade, paddle in the sea and eat seafood. Aiden and Beth do much the same, with the latter echoing Daz in spooking their teacher by claiming to have bumped into the headmaster. Both teenagers elicit awkward silences when professing their love and both adults throw up and have to visit a chemist. On returning to the hotel, Liz and Aiden are greeted by the unctuous concierge, who makes enough insinuations to throw both teachers into a panic. 

Aiden particularly reacts badly when Beth informs him that she had told the concierge that she was a first-time prostitute who had picked up Aiden in a pub. He breaks off the relationship and announces that he plans to propose to his girlfriend when they get home. When Beth threatens to blackmail him with the photos she has of them together, she is crushed when he reveals that he has confiscated them and won't allow her to ruin his life - or her own. 

Both women reveal they are pregnant and plan to abort, with Liz explaining that she's been with the same man for 20 years and has never been able to conceive. Beth taunts Aiden for making her condition his crisis and, while she promises not to mess up his idyllic existence, Daz makes plans to quit school and support Liz and their baby with the money he inherited from his grandmother. Liz asks if he's serious about making a go of things and warns him that a teacher got caught with a pupil when she was at school and they were shunned by society. Daz insists he has no doubts and wouldn't want to know anyone who spurned them. 

As Beth misses her last train home, she returns to the hotel with Aiden after they follow eating candy floss on a Ferris wheel with a game of tenpin bowling and a visit to a variety show. She hasn't forgiven him for being so cruel, but she hasn't given up on the idea of prising him away from his girlfriend, either. After sex, Beth asks Christine, but Aiden is reluctant to talk about her. He tells Beth that he loves her and she seems pleased to hear him finally say it, as they watch a firework display through their bedroom window. 

Daz and Beth also make love again and wake on Sunday to go for breakfast in a diner on the front. By coincidence, it's Daz and Beth's birthdays and Aiden buys her an A charm necklace and jokes that it's the first time she's ever had top marks from him. He has also drawn her as Aerial from The Little Mermaid (which echoes the copy of JM Waterhouse's `A Mermaid' on the room wall) and Beth is feeling so pleased with herself that she flips the finger at the concierge when Aiden insists on holding hands with her as they walk down the stairs into the lobby.

Having taken the funicular to the top of a cliff, Aiden persuades Beth to agree to have a termination and promises they will have lots of children in the future. Back in the room, she makes him call Christine and break up with her and is so proud of him for being a man that they have vigorous sex on the couch. They go for a walk and Beth is watching a Punch and Judy show when Aiden gets a call from Christine informing him that she opened the letter about their fertility tests and has learned that they can't have kids. Furious that Beth has deceived him, Aiden buys her a pregnancy test and demands to know if she has tried to blackmail him with her boyfriend's baby. 

Liz also loses her temper with Daz, whose endless prattle about being a dad prompts her to reveal that she had been pregnant before with an older man and had got rid of the baby to please him. She can't go through the same anguish and hopes that Daz understands. However, they are met in the lobby by the concierge, who reveals that Liz's husband has been calling for her. Daz is puzzled how he knows she is at this particular hotel and Liz breaks the news that anyone watching carefully will have realised long before.

Having withheld the big secret for so long, Southcombe rather rushes the big reveal by opting for a couple of clumsy cross-cuts that are markedly less subtle than the details involving Beth's camera, Aiden's phone, the sheen of the front desk bell and the changing colour of the concierge's hair. Credit should be given to production designer Felix Coles and make-up artist Catherine Elizabeth Smith for their neat touches, as well as to editor Agnieszka Liggett and cinematographer Ian Liggett, who keeps the camera moving, whether intimately inside the splendidly ornate Grand Hotel or expansively around the Scarborough seafront. 

It's intriguing to compare 18 year-old Eloise Smyth's performance in Sea View with that of 27 year-old Jessica Barden here and how differently Southcombe photographs her body and the 44 year-old Jodhi May's. Such gambits serve only to increase the sense of discomfort that viewers have to endure, as Southcombe seeks to make them complicit in the illegality by cajoling them into feeling a degree of compassion for the corruptors of uninhibited youths who appear to have been the instigators of the liaisons. If nothing else, the picture will spark some lively debates about the nature of abuse in the bar after the screening or on the way home.

The central quartet do well enough, but the deftest turn comes from Donald York, whose dapper concierge has the world-weary air of someone who has seen it all before and can no longer be shocked, even though he doesn't want to court controversy. He does, however, utter the least credible line (and this in a film whose tactic of echoing dialogue never quite comes off) when he states that the room with twin beds that Liz has requested is the bridal suite.

Although it looms in the background of a numerous Argentinian films, the Dirty War has rarely been tackled head on with any degree of depth or effectiveness. The standout is Luis Puenzo's The Official Version (1985), which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. But sterling efforts like Héctor Olivera's Night of the Pencils (1986), Martin Donovan's Apartment Zero (1989). Lita Stantic's A Wall of Silence (1993), Marco Brechis's Garage Olimpo (1999) and Lucrecia Martel's The Headless Woman (2008) are now joined by Benjamin Naishtat's Rojo. Following History of Fear (2014) and The Movement (2015), this is the 33 year-old's third feature and its depiction of small-town life in the mid-1970s contains plentiful warnings about the ease with which normality can become a nightmare if power falls into the wrong hands. 

In an unnamed Argentine province in 1975, a series of people calmly walk out of a well-appointed house carrying looted goods. The first is a gentleman with a cane, who has chosen a carriage clock. A young girl with some clothing is followed by a couple with a television set, a woman with a mirror and another who closes the door behind her as she leaves with her contraband in a wheelbarrow. She's watched by a younger man, who seems discomfited by the pillaging. But, rather than walk away, he gives in to his baser urges and slips inside. 

On Saturday night, Dieguito (Diego Cremonesi) enters a busy restaurant  in Granada and shames balding Claudio Morán (Darío Grandinetti) into giving up his table because he could be ordering while the lawyer waits for his wife. The waiter is embarrassed because Claudio is a good customer, but he seems content to bide his time by the bar. Dieguito can feel him staring, however, and asks Claudio to show some dignity. But Claudio insists on quietly humiliating the stranger by questioning his upbringing and offering faux sympathy for the fact that he perceives himself to be a victim. 

The calmly delivered riposte upsets Dieguito, who jumps to his feet and denounces his fellow diners as Nazis before being bundled outside. At that moment, Claudio's wife, Susana (Andrea Frigerio), arrives and takes her seat without being aware of the commotion. They dine as if nothing has happened. But, as they get into their car, Dieguito plants himself in the middle of the road and breaks a window with a rock. He runs off and Claudio follows to confront him. A tussle ensues, which concludes with Dieguito producing a pistol. Susana pleads with him to spare her husband and he proceeds to shoot himself in the side of the face. 

As he is still alive, Claudio bundles him into the backseat and drops Susana at home so that he can take Dieguito to the nearest hospital. He has a change of heart, however, and heads into the desert, where he dumps the dying man in the scrub and drives off into the sunrise. It's only now, some 24 minutes into the film, that the title appears on screen.

Three months later, life appears to have returned to normal, as Claudio and Susana host a small birthday party for their daughter, Paula (Laura Grandinetti). Much to her father's annoyance, she is dating Santiago (Rafael Federman), who seems a polite young man, as they play a military board game with their guests. At the office, Claudio advises Mario (Daniel Cabot) to be patient about his severance cheque from the meat packaging plant and accepts his invitation to go to the upcoming rodeo, at which a troupe of celebrated American cowboys is due to appear. 

Unfortunately, they are prevented from travelling by the government and a fuss blows up about the state insulting foreigners. Claudio tries to keep his head down, but Vivas (Claudio Martínez Bel) seeks to exploit their friendship by having him supervise a shady third-party deal to acquire the looted house. Claudio has misgivings, but Vivas offers him a handsome cut of the profits and they take a tour around the empty property, where Claudio is embarrassed to be recognised by an elderly neighbour (Inés Suárez).

While Paula rehearses a dance routine about a colonial era abduction with her teacher (Susana Pampín) - who gives her an unflinching demonstration on the meaning of the term `intention' in acting - Claudio is disturbed to learn that a doctor friend has been forced to flee because of his wife's involvement with a union at the hospital. However, he remains focused on his job and persuades Mario to act as Vivas's silent partner in return for a pay-off to tide him over until he receives his compensation package. 

Following a Federal intervention, the new government appoints an official (Alberto Suárez) to run the local administration. As the American cowboys are still stranded in Argentina, the Intervenor presents them with a maté cut and receives an authentic ranch whip in return. When a radio reporter presses the Intervenor to comment on events in Buenos Aires, he demands to know which station he works for and an uneasy silence descends. Things also become strained between Paula and Santiago when she refuses to have sex with him and he becomes possessively jealous of her friendship with her dance partner, Franco (Ulises Guyot). 

At a gallery viewing, Vivas's wife, Mabel (Mara Bestelli), has a panic attack. While Susana tends to her, Vivas confides to Claudio (in a side room full of stuffed animals) that she is stressed because her brother, Diego, has disappeared. He has always been a source of concern to the family and Claudio sympathises when Vivas reveals that he was educated by nuns, studied art and was known to his friends as `The Hippie'. However, they suspect he was also involved with politics and have hired famous Chilean detective Sinclair (Alfredo Castro) to conduct an investigation. When Vivas mentions that Diego had a train ticket to come to Granada, Claudio asks to see a photograph and his horrified to see that Mabel's sibling is the man he dumped in the desert.

As Claudio draws heavily on a cigarette, Sinclair sidles up behind him. Since leaving the Santiago Police Department, he has become a star by solving cases on television and Claudio is unnerved by his intensity. He makes excuses for being unable to meet Sinclair during the week and Susana goes along with the claim they are going to the beach for a break. But Claudio can't relax and scolds Susana when she needs the loo during a walk along the shore. While she scurries into the adjoining woods, Claudio and Paula learn there is going to be an eclipse and the screen turns red, as everyone gazes into the sky with special cardboard glasses. Claudio looks up with the naked eye, however, and the sequence ends with a freeze-frame of him peering out from behind a raised hand.

Having endured an uncomfortable interview with Sinclair, Claudio is taken aback when he returns to his office to warn him against leaving unfinished meals on a shelf as they will attract flies. Across town, Santiago spies on Paula and Franco during a rehearsal. That night, he and his posse abduct one of Franco's friends and his anxious mother interrupts Sinclair's prayers at the local church to implore him to find her missing son. She suggests he ventures out into the desert, as that has long been a dumping ground for inconvenient corpses. 

Shortly after an intruder leaves a card on the sofa in the middle of the night, Claudio and Susana attend a magic show. He gets agitated when the magician (Rudy Chernicoff) pretends to have bungled a disappearance trick and Susana looks over to the bar to check her husband is okay. The next day, Sinclair comes to his office and asks him to take him to the desert. Taking a gun from his bookcase, Claudio drives in silence until they reach a spot in the middle of nowhere. 

They walk a distance from the car before Sinclair reveals that he is going back to Buenos Aires and prompts Claudio into asking why he has ended his investigation. He reveals that Dieguito died and that lots of people in the town told him about the showdown at the restaurant, the shots fired in the street and the desert dust found on his car when he had his shattered window repaired. Sinclair isn't interested in whether Dieguito shot himself or not and accuses Claudio of hypocrisy when he starts to cry. But he isn't here to judge, as Argentina is facing a graver crisis and simply urges Claudio to remember that God made the Heavens and the Earth and suggests that he trembles before Him to atone for what he has done.

That night, Susana senses that Claudio is uneasy and kisses him fondly. He decides to wear a toupee to Paula's dance recital and is relieved when nobody draws attention to it. Before the performance, the teacher gives a speech about her pride in being Argentinian and her hopes that the ordinary people will always remain united in the face of divisions among the ruling classes. As she speaks, Vivas leans forward and whispers to Claudio about the swirling rumours of an impending coup. He squirms in his seat and stares forwards, as the curtains part and the dance begins. 

Closing on another freeze frame, this is a biting allegorical satire on the dangers of doing nothing in the face of iniquity and injustice. Given the rise of right-leaning populists around the globe, the message should send shivers through complacent audiences everywhere, as nowhere is seemingly immune from allowing socio-political control to fall into the hands of those who will seek to use it for their own ends. And no one is more aware of this than Naishtat himself, as his grandmother was jailed during the Dirty War and the photographs that Claudio sifts through in the looted house depict members of his own family. 

For all the gravity of its themes, however, this is anything but a dry diatribe, as Naishtat (as both writer and director) takes cues from the likes of Chileans Alejandro Jodorowsky and Pablo Larrain, as well as Sergio Leone, Wim Wenders and the master of wittily unsettling thrillers about the despicable charms of the bourgeoisie, Claude Chabrol. Indeed, Alfredo Castro, who plays Sinclair like a Chilean version of Columbo, is one of Larrain's favourite actors and his splendidly mannered performance contrasts with Darío Grandinetti's button-down display as the moustachioed lawyer whose tennis club urbanity begins to crack under pressure to reveal the senses of privileged entitlement and vicious self-survival that lurk beneath. 

Matching the excellence of the ensemble, the subtly shaded and desaturated production values enable Naishtat to draw sly parallels between the 1970s and the present day, as does his use of stylistic gambits like slow motion, crash zooms, split diopters, telephoto shots and freeze frames. Photographed with an insinuating discretion, Julieta Dolinsky's production design and Jam Monti's costumes set the period feel, while Andres Quaranta's abrasive editing and Vincent Van Warmerdam's perturbing (and slyly self-reflexive) score reinforce the sinister tone that moils beneath the archly superficial surface sense of calm. This is polished and provocative film-making and it's a shame that no distributor took a chance on Naishtat's earlier outings, as they demand to be seen.

Films about water polo are about as rare as British Olympic success in the sport since 1920 (when we won the last of our four golds). Having played in Division B in the Italian championship, Nanni Moretti was well placed to combine water polo and politics in Palombella rossa (1989), while Krisztina Goda was able to draw on Hungary's enduring pride at defeating the Soviet Union in the gold medal match at the 1956 Games in Children of Glory (2006). Indeed, there's also plenty of insider insight in Maxime Govare and Cédric Le Gallo's The Shiny Shrimps, as the latter was part of Les Crevettes Pailletées, the eponymous gay team that provided the inspiration for a genial, if utterly predictable comedy that emulates the synchronised swimming duo of Gilles Lellouche's Sink or Swim and Oliver Parker's Swimming With Men (both 2018) in just about remaining afloat. 

Having insulted a gay interviewer on live television, 33 year-old swimmer Matthias Le Goff (Nicolas Gob) is ordered by the national association to spend three months preparing a water polo team called The Shiny Shrimps for the Gay Games in Croatia in order to prove himself worthy of a place in the French squad for the world championships. On first meeting, Matthias is so dismayed by the hostile reception he receives from senior player Joel (Roland Menou) and so appalled by the rest of the team's refusal to take training seriously that he calls Elsa (Anaïs Gilbert) and pleads with her to find an alternative punishment. 

In time, however, he gets to know the rest of the squad: Jean (Alban Lenoir), a restaurateur who broke up with Alex (David Baiot) and employs provincial newbie Vincent (Felix Martinez); Cédric (Michael Abiteboul), who is trying to juggle an office job with fathering twin boys with his new husband, Bertrand (Pierre Samuel); party animal Xavier (Geoffrey Couet); the outwardly brash, but inwardly conflicted Damien (Romain Lancry); and Fred (Romain Brau), a transsexual woman whose presence on what is supposed to be a team exclusively for cisgender gay men causes a degree of friction because Joel is an old school ACT-UP veteran who insists that he campaigned for same-sex rights and not those of `plastic surgery divas'. 

In addition to maintaining his own training, Matthias also has to fit in custody visits with his teenage daughter, Victoire (Maïa Quesemand). Such is his focus on his swimming that Matthias has been an absentee father and his ex-wife has not forgiven him for being so selfish. But Victoire takes an instant shine to the Shrimps when she sees them rehearsing a dance routine that Fred has choreographed to Bonnie Tyler's `Holding Out for a Hero' for the closing ceremony. However, Matthias has high hopes that the team won't even qualify for the Games, as they have to win a qualifier against a no-prisoners lesbian team named The Lumberjacks.

Happy to see the Shrimps 1-3 down at half-time (despite taking plenty of stick from the opposition coach), Matthias discovers that Jean is dying from bone cancer and has opted against chemotherapy in order to enjoy whatever time he has left. In return for his silence on the matter, Jean agrees that Matthias doesn't have to go to Croatia. But he urges him to give a proper team talk so that they can produce a fightback and qualify for the tournament. Pointing out the underhand tactics and the verbal abuse the players have been taking, Matthias sends them back into the pool with a new resolve that sees them run out winners.

Despite Bertrand giving him an ultimatum to choose between his family and the Shrimps, Cédric keeps coming to practice and Victoire enjoys helping Fred create tracksuits for the Games. They even make a shrimp pendant for Matthias. But Victoire is furious with him when she overhears the swim team chief (Yvon Back) telling him that his deal with Jean is null and void and that he will be expelled unless he coaches the Shrimps in Croatia. 

Having travelled across Europe in an open-top Parisian tour bus - in a clear nod to Stephan Elliott's The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) - the team check into an ornate schloss hotel. However, Matthias is in no mood to enjoy himself, as he has been excluded from the French squad for the worlds. He sulks over dinner, as Vincent drags up for a lip-synch version of Céline Dion and Garou's duet. `Sous le Vent', with Jean as part of his initiation forfeit. But he listens as Jean reminds him that he's not the only one with problems, as Vincent was driven out of his village for being gay, while Cédric is having to pretend to be on a business trip to get some time away from the demanding Bertrand. 

Consequently, Matthias wakes everyone early and takes them canoeing on the river to build team spirit and even manages a smile when they all remove their bathing trunks during their horseplay. However, the mood sours when they attract the attention of some homophobes at a service station and Cédric gets a cut eye defending Vincent. Joel and Fred have another argument about a trans woman being out of place on a gay team and there is a majority vote to quit the Games and go home. 

Joel hijacks the bus, however, and everyone agrees to go along for the ride and do their best to win. A montage to `Boys, Boys, Boys' shows the teammates partying on the top deck (where they even have a paddling pool). Moreover, Vincent has his first fling with a hunky hitcher they spotted on Grindr (Renaud Chélélékian), while Cédric keeps donning a shirt and tie to send video message to Bertrand to give him the impression that he is working hard in an ultra-efficient German office. They arrive late, but are just in time to join the rest of the French team marching in the opening ceremony and Victoire is excited to see her father and the Shrimps on the TV. 

In their opening game, they find themselves up against the New York Blue Balls and win on penalties after Joel makes a dramatic save and Damien scores the winner. While Matthias thinks they have gone to bed early, the Shrimps hit the clubs and Joel apologises to Fred for his rudeness and explains that he has never forgiven the trans who replaced him as treasurer at ACT-UP. As the night wears on, Joel gets seduced and Jean and Alex wind up in bed after helping Vincent back to the hotel after he zones out on poppers. 

All seems to be going swimmingly, even though Cédric feels guilty at missing the twins' first birthday. Joel is delighted to see his lover lining up for the Vikings Divine in their next game. Unfortunately, they lose 8-0 and Matthias is ready to walk out on them for not taking their sport seriously. But Jean informs him that he would rather lose with those he loves than win alone. So, when Cédric flies home to be with his babies, Matthias steps into the breach for the floodlit play-off against the Croatian Octopussies. It's a battle, but Matthias scores a winner in the dying seconds. But they also prove to be Jean's last hurrah, as the sheer physical exertion of competing kills him. 

At his funeral, Alex speaks about losing him twice. But he is determined to see him off in style and the Shrimps come on to the altar to remove their jackets to reveal their pale blue tracksuits underneath. As Jean's starchy parents look on, the chief selector tells Matthias that he has made the swim team. When he criticises the Shrimps for their tackiness, however, Matthias tells him where to shove his offer and he and Victoire bop along with the Lumberjacks, the priest and Jean's mother and sobbing father, as the film ends with a freeze frame of the Shrimps punching the air in triumph. 

Touching on pertinent points rather than exploring them in any depth, Le Gallo, Govare and co-scenarist Romain Choay opt to entertain as much as enlighten in this well-meaning, but underwhelming treatise on tolerance. They skirt the binary issues arising from the inclusion of a trans woman, but they have more interesting things to say about playing by the rules and winning in a society (as embodied by Matthias) that views such concepts in a very different way. The contrasting attitude of Joel to his younger teammates is also instructive, as he had fought for justice during the AIDS crisis and it's fitting that he gets to make the speech about the wait until 1994 for a monument to the gay men and women who had perished at Dachau during the Second World War. 

Visually, the film lacks personality. with the water polo matches being unimaginatively filmed and wholly uninvolving. The Croatian club sequence also falls flat, as the decadence is drab and we don't know the teammates well enough to care sufficiently about their emotions or their sex lives. Indeed, the picture's biggest problem is the sketchiness of the characterisation, as too many of the minor Shrimps are little more than infantile inflatable dummies that bob around on the surface. Even principals like Jean and Matthhias are somewhat perfunctory, with the latter's conversion being cornily implausible. Sadly, it says much that the best joke is that Cédric's twins are named Gaspard and Noé, which will raise more of a smile among arthouse aficionados than the coarse crack about Ryan Gosling.

Film distributors know the dates of the school holidays, so it seems bizarre that an animation aimed squarely at younger viewers is being released on the first Friday of the new term. What makes this decision all the more perplexing is that this has not been a vintage summer for children's movies and that audiences may well have turned up in decent numbers to watch A Minuscule Adventure, which is a sequel to Hélène Giraud and Thomas Szabo's Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants (2013), which was spun off from the French TV series, Minuscule (2006-12) and won the César for Best Animated Feature for its inspired mix of CGI insects and live-action backdrops. 

The opening vignette takes place in a snowy wood, as a ladybird family is trying to haul an oak apple back to the hole in a tree trunk where they plan to hibernate. One young ladybird spots a bright red apple in the undergrowth and is struggling to carry it home when it is waylaid by a vicious posse of flies, whose furious pursuit results in a collision with a frozen spider's web. 

In the nearby town, a troop of black ants spots some tasty treats a backstreet shop. As the Grocer (Thierry Frémont) is busy watching television, the ants sneak in and move a plank across the room to use as a ladder to reach the boxes of goodies. Unfortunately, as they celebrate sliding one box down to the floor, a gang of red ants threaten to ambush them. So, the most intrepid black ant leads his foes into the cellar, where Man Who Chews Gum (Bruno Salomone) and Van Driver (Stéphane Coulon) are packing boxes for delivery to all corners of the globe.

Needing assistance, the black ant sends out a Morse summons the Father Ladybird and Junior overhears him leaving and follows close behind. The ant is hanging from a light shade and trying to resist the efforts of some red ants to overpower him. But the ladybirds arrive in time to swing the shade and send the red ants tumbling into a box that is sealed and marked for Beijing. However, Junior loses his grip and lands in a box destined for Gaudeloupe and Father has to fly through the van window in a bid to rescue him. 

Arriving at the airport, the van (with a large hazelnut on its roof) judders to a halt and a cockroach shows Father a shortcut so he can catch the plane to the Caribbean. It's touch and go, but he manages to find his way into the cargo hold and settles down for a sleep. When he wakes, he's on a small plane coming into to land on an island paradise. Man With Hat (Jean Nanga) loads the box on to a truck and Father hitches a ride on top of the box. However, he's sent flying by a bump in the road and lands upside down on a beach. 

Junior escapes from the box when it's delivered to a beachside café and zooms off into the forest, emitting small guffs of green gas after his ordeal. Meanwhile, Father watches some crabs stealing food from a sunbathing tourist before spotting some black ants struggling across the sand with a coconut. He consults the leader, who sends out an SOS that travels across the Atlantic and is picked up by a black ant close to the ladybirds' woodland home. 

Scuttling through the snow, he calls on a spider who lives in a doll's house and asks if he has a means of flying across the ocean. Luckily, he has a toy ship and some balloons and they set sail (in a sequence Terry Gilliam would have been proud of). While they're in transit, Junior becomes acquainted with some of the weirdly exotic insects in the jungle and has to use a whiff of green gas to free itself from a Venus fly trap. He also uses his agility to see off a praying mantis, which crashes into a stalk. However, Junior plunges down a hole and lands on a tarantula's web and is fortunate that his father finds him in time to drop a stone and crush the spider, who is too busy toying with its prey like an eight-legged cat. 

Father and another ladybug-like critter rescue the other occupants of the web, including a fly and a fat green grub. But Junior is in a bad way and the ladybug carries him back to his people. They hold a deeply moving healing vigil under the full moon, while Father gets the black ant to send out another Morse signal to the rescue party. However, they have encountered a problem of their own, as the storm causes the balloons to pop and the ship is swallowed by a shark when it sinks beneath the waves. 

After a lengthy wait, Junior comes round and immediately kisses the ladybug who had nursed him. Father is hugely relieved, but there's still no way to get home before the rest of the family wakes from its hibernation. Help is at hand, however, as the spider uses the MP3 player he keeps below deck to boom out some loud music that gives the shark indigestion and causes it to burp up the ship, which chugs away underwater thanks to an engine powered by A4 batteries. 

Back on the island, Father shows the ladybugs how to work together to lift a coconut and drop it on to the rocks so they can have a feast. While they are sleeping it off, however, Construction Manager (Franck Benezech) begins chopping down trees to clear an area for a hotel complex. Fearing they will lose their home, the ladybugs listen to Father describing something he saw at the beach when a green grub had caused the sunbathing tourist to break out in a rash. 

They crowd together on a branch, while Father goes in search of the grub. He tells Junior to stay put, but is grateful that he disobeyed when he plucks him out of the mantis's claw and they zip away through the jungle. Undaunted, the mantis calls for reinforcements and corner the ladybirds on the rocks overlooking the sea. But, having inflated some new balloons. spider and ant are able to swoop in to rescue them in the nick of time and let off a firework to complete a jet-powered getaway. 

Floating across the jungle canopy, the travellers descend into a tunnel lit with an eerie green light. They find the grubs hiding away in their lair and the one rescued from the tarantula web recognises Father and arranges an audience with the chief elder. He places a feeler on Father's shell and seems to read his history in a frantic flashback that convinces him that his cause is just. Consequently, the grubs swoop on the building site and cover the Manager and his deputy in green blotches that cause the project to be shut down and the beach sealed off as a health hazard. 

After the ladybugs thank their visitors for saving their home, the voyagers set off in their ship. However, Junior is miserable and asks his father's permission to return to the island and stay with his sweetheart. Sad though he is to say goodbye, Father gives Junior his blessing and he flits back to land on a branch beside his beloved. Once back in France, the black ant returns to his colony, the spider dozes off in the doll's house listening to soothing strings and Father settles down beside his brood to enjoy a well-earned rest. 

We're not quite finished, however, as the red ants scurry out of their box on being delivered to a Chinese restaurant and the film ends with them vanishing past a bowl of hot chilis on a work top. Whether they will feature in a further instalment remains to be seen. But anyone who succumbs to the charms of this delightful picture will doubtless be seeking out its predecessor and the series that spawned it, as this is the insect animation equivalent of the glorious slapstick comedies of Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel. 

Feeling akin to a Creature Comforts remake of Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou's Microcosmos (1996), this is vastly superior to American insect flicks like John Lassiter's A Bug's Life, Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson's Antz (both 1998) and John A. Davis's The Ant Bully (2006), this contains echoes of Max Linder, Charlie Chaplin, Jacques Tati and Pierre Étaix. The visuals and sound design are impeccable and direction animator Thomas Monti merits mention alongside Szabo and Giraud, who have created something cannily eco-agitational and as timelessly charming as the pioneering stop-motion masterpieces of Wladislaw Starewicz.

Whenever a documentary purports to be about safety in motor sport, it's a racing certainty that the director will have trawled the archives for crash footage. Both Paul Crowder's 1 (2013) and Richard Heap's Grand Prix: The Killer Years (2011) presented their share of carnage in charting Formula One's slow progress towards the reform of its circuits, cars and safety equipment. Now, Roger Hinze and Michael Williams Miles take a similar approach in Rapid Response, an overview of IndyCar's evolving attitude towards trackside medical assistance that relies heavily on Dr Stephen Olvey's tome, Rapid Response: My Inside Story as a Motor Racing Life-Saver. 

The opening segment is full of accident footage, as Olvey recalls witnessing the death of his hero Bill Vukovich at the 1955 Indianapolis 500. Indeed, one in seven CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) drivers perished during a season and drivers Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti and Parnelli Jones recall that this was regarded as an acceptable risk and just part of the sport. Following the fireball deaths of Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald in 1964, however, gasoline was replaced by less combustible fuels, while the Indianapolis Speedway appointed Dr Thomas Hanna as its first on-site medical official. 

Having been persuaded by his father to go to become a doctor rather than a driver, Olvey volunteered for the infield treatment centre at the Speedway and gradually became a key member of Hanna's team. He was unable to save Jim Malloy following a practice crash in 1972, but the incident showed him the need for improved facilities at the track and Indianapolis became renowned for its safety and care procedures. Eventually, the drivers asked for the doctors to travel to other venues and Olvey was joined by safety team manager Steve Edwards, who had trained as a paramedic. 

Al Unser remembers winning the 500 a fortnight after being concussed in a crash in Texas and he admits now that he withheld information about dizzy spells in order to compete. Olvey and Edwards reveal that there was resistance from some track owners and race promoters to having a travelling medical crew. But the crashes involving Johnny Rutherford at Phoenix in 1980 and AJ Foyt at Michigan the following year led to rule changes about who was allowed to attend an incident and the introduction of helicopter evacuation. Even so, fatalities continued to occur and Hinze and Miles rather tastelessly replay the death of Gordon Smiley at Indianapolis in 1982 in slow-motion, as Olvey describes the severity of his injuries. 

By this time, Dr Terry Trammell has also qualified and was working at the nearby Methodist Hospital when Danny Ongais was badly injured at Indianapolis in 1981. Trammell managed to avoid amputating Ongais's leg and Olvey was so impressed with his efforts that they conducted the first scientific research into racing injuries and were able to make recommendations about improvements to the cars to limit them further. Trammell became part of the CART team after saving Rick Mears's feet after they were shattered during a 1984 crash in Canada and he helped both Mario and son Jeff Andretti when they were among the nine drivers injured in one meeting at Indianapolis in 1992. 

This meeting also prompted the introduction of black box recorders in cockpits and Olvey started working with the commercial motor industry to introduce modifications to sports and saloon cars to increase driver safety. Computer simulations were also used for the first time to take the trial and error out of improvements, while Olvey also began research into concussion at a time when drivers felt they were okay once they had regained consciousness. As a result of his efforts, both Chip Ganassi and Roberto Guerrero made full recoveries after suffering major head traumas at Michigan in 1984 and Indianapolis in 1987 respectively. In each case, the rapid response time prevented the onset of secondary brain action that accounts for the majority of deaths or irreversible damage on public highways.

As Olvey confides, however, the sport remained dangerous and there was a lot of soul searching following the demise of Gonzalo Rodríguez at Laguna Seca in 1999. But, once again, tragedy led to reform, as Christian Fittipaldi helped test the Head and Neck Support (HANS) device that is now mandatory in most forms of motor sport. Eliminating risk was now the priority for Olvey's team and Helio Castroneves recalls the cancellation of a 2001 race in Texas because drivers were getting dizzy because of the G forces involved in negotiating the track. Tony Kanaan also reflects on the rehab services that Olvey and Trammell offered drivers, in describing how he was able to finish third in the 2003 Indy 500 three weeks after busting his wrist in Japan. 

Olvey and Trammell's speed of response also saved Alex Zanardi after he lost both legs in a crash at the Lausitzring in Germany in 2001. Such was his courage that he returned to the circuit to complete the 13 laps left in the race and he has also gone on to become a medal-winning Paralympian. But this is about Olvey and Trammell and the modesty they display in outlining the changes they have brought about to improve IndyCar safety standards speaks volumes for them as men and medics. 

By contrast, Hinze and Miles follow Cecil B. De Mille's tried-and-trusted approach to wallowing in sin only to punish it in the final reel by showing as much crash footage as they could possibly cram into the running time and justify it by making it a necessary evil to illustrate Olvey and Trammell's testimony. They edit the clips slickly enough, although Jose Parody's score rather gives the cynically exploitative game away by veering between rocking guitar riffs and mawkish strings.

Founded in 1869, the Durham Miners' Association celebrated its 150th anniversary earlier this year with the 135th Durham Miners' Gala. In order to mark the event, Daniel Draper has produced The Big Meeting as a follow-up to his 2017 documentary profile, Dennis Skinner: Nature of the Beast. Over half a century has passed since John Irvin descended upon the then thriving coalfield to make the 1963 BFI-funded short, Gala Day. He had three cameras at his disposal, but Draper used 15 to capture the events of 14 July 2018, when 200,000 turned out in a show of working-class solidarity that was all the more remarkable for the fact that Durham's last colliery had closed in 1994.

As various academics reveal over a montage of archival illustrations and photographs, trades unions arose in the early 19th century to enable British workers to defend themselves against the exploitative capitalist forces that were running the rapacious empire. The Durham Miners' Association became one of the most powerful unions in the world and its Redhills headquarters was built to impress and reflect its status. In 1871, the DMA decided to launch the Durham Miners' Gala to revive the rustic practice of festival and the spread of the railways allowed miners and their families from across the county to reclaim St Cuthbert's city from the professional class that had gentrified it. 

As the community gears up for the 134th Gala, we are introduced to Charlotte Austin (a student at Jesus College, Oxford) who works at the 
People's Bookshop; Laura Daly, who has helped create the first women's banner to show at the gala; Heather Ward, who plays with the DMA Brass Band; and Stephen Guy, who is proud of the Sherburn Colliery banner and being able to continue a tradition that has united the young and old for decades. 

Following a poignantly cross-cut contrast between old footage of miners toiling underground and the empty tunnels as they are today, we hear actor Richard Burton, author DBC Pierre and journalist Paul Mason musing on the place of mining in the industrial life of the nation. The screen then splits to show how Austin, Ward, Daly and Guy make their preparations on the morning of 14 July. MP Ian Lavery and film-maker John Irvin add their voices over historical clips of marching bands and thronging crowds and Mason offers the intriguing thought that brass band music is either loud and vibrant or soft and reflective because the styles reflect the sonic lives of the workers, who put up with the din of the mine, mill or factory in order to savour birdsong and the sound of leather on willow.

A random selection of atmospheric shots follows to the brass strains of `Sweet Caroline' before we catch up with our participating quartet in another split-screen section. Lovely images of the cathedral towering over the River Wear presage a match shot of the County Hotel with miner-artist Tom McGuinness's painting, `Durham Miners' Gala'. Biographer Robert McManners mentions the Ashington Group in showing us McGuinness's `Changing Tracks', Tom Lamb's `Big Meeting', Henry Perlee Parker's `Pitmen At Play', Ted Holloway's `Testing for Gas', Norman Cornish's `Busy Bar Scene', Bob Olley `Setting a Prop' and David Venables's `Letting Go' (frustratingly, none of which are dated). But the pictures leave an indelible impression and maybe Exhibition on Screen should pay a visit to the Mining Art Gallery at Auckland Castle. 

Wonderful home movie footage shows the likes of Clement Attlee, Aneurin Bevan, Hugh Gaitskill and Harold Wilson on the balcony of the Royal County Hotel. Sporting a shirt emblazoned with the word `Marras' - which is local slang for a trusted ally, as well as being the name of the Friends of Durham Miners' Gala, which currently funds the event - Jeremy Corbyn enthuses about his past visits and the spirit that the Gala celebrates. MPs Richard Burgon and Dennis Skinner share their memories of standing on the balcony and watching the crowds. 

As we are introduced to Emma Shankland from Durham Bannermakers, we learn that the Gala banners have evolved since initially bearing religious symbolism in the Victorian era. Following nationalisation in 1945, the slogans and iconography came to reflect social justice, but they have been more markedly political in their tone since the 1984-85 Miners' Strike. We return to the historical aspects of the Gala after another rove around the picnics on the cricket ground (complete with piles of discarded brass instruments glinting in the sun). The DMA's Ross Forbes recalls the organisations links with Irish, Italian and Hungarian nationalist, the Bolshevik Revolution and the African Nationalist Congress. In 2018, the cause chosen is the campaign to secure the freedom of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. We also hear a message from Bernie Sanders being greeted with enthusiasm, 

John Irvin recalls the making of Gala Day (which clearly gave Draper the idea for his use of split screens) and see invigorating monochrome clips, as well as some more voyeuristic ones of canoodling couples in the woods (as the Gala is also famed for its trysting). Mick Jackson and Brett Haran commend the DMA for its progressive attitudes towards LGBTQ+ issues and mention Matthew Warchus's Pride (2014), which deals with the Support the Miners campaign. They are delighted that young people are becoming energised and keen to learn about labour history and Ben Sellers, the founder of the People's Bookshop, and socialist author Liam Young echo their views, which Austin confirms by contrasting the attitudes towards the Gala of Labour leaders George Lansbury. Michael Foot and Tony Blair. 

The honour of addressing the Gala is discussed by Burgon and Lavery, as well as Margaret Aspinall from the Hillsborough Family Support Group. As we see Corbyn wrap up his speech in front of an estimated 200,000, the focus flips to the fun side of the Gala, as we see footage of the fairground rides, sideshow attractions and sporting events that amuse the crowds in the evening. 

Returning to more serious matters, however, St Hilda's historian Selina Todd examines the part that women's health groups in the North East played in shaping the kinds of service provided by the National Health Service. However, the Gala only rarely invited women speakers like Barbara Castle and Bessie Braddock, while the Miss Coal pageant is now regarded with a degree of embarrassment. But the role of women within the mining communities changed with the 1984 strike, as they gave the men their backing and then joined protests, ran soup kitchens and provided emotional support for the cause (while also keeping their families going). As one voice remarks off-camera, however, women had always been in charge. The strike merely made it apparent. 

As Austin wishes more people from around the country could visit her home patch and share in the Gala experience, Billy Bragg sings `There Is Power in a Union' in the other half of the split screen. We follow the bands to the cathedral, which hosts a service that ex-NUM official George Robson considers unique in Europe. As brass and bagpipes reverberate around the masonry, Daly and her comrades bring in the women's banner and the deep-felt sentiments the occasion generates are evident in every frame. 

Unfortunately, Draper follows this emotive moment with a pugnacious montage of Labour leaders from Keir Hardie to Corbyn that is cross-cut with rank-and-file faces and the scarcely subtle subliminal captions reading `Polling Station'. Such electioneering is as inevitable as it's legitimate within this context, but it's also a touch crass. Indeed, the wrap-up itself feels somewhat anti-climactic, as the final split screens show our quartet wend their ways home, while the city centre becomes the scene of a booze-fuelled party (and why not). But the closing remarks of the talking-heads are repetitive and a touch platitudinous and close what has been an often engaging record on a downbeat. 

Feeling akin to a mash-up between Ken Loach's The Spirit of `45 (2013) and Julien Temple's Ibiza: The Silent Movie, this is a sincere, if somewhat scattershot account of a nonpareil social, political and cultural event. The way in which Draper blends pride and pain, joy and fury, and evocation and aspiration is often tinglingly inspirational. Editor Christie Allanson does a fine job in combining the old and the new, although Bill Morrison's Gala montage at the end of The Miners' Hymns (2017) is unsurpassable. Equally worthy of note is The Big Meeting (1963), which was produced by Donald Alexander for the National Coal Board Film Unit. It's odd that this was excluded from the BFI's Portrait of a Miner: The National Coal Board Collection. But, as this was only Volume 1, we can but hope it crops up on any companion set or as an extra on its namesake's DVD.