The recent burgeoning success of the right in British mainstream politics has been well documented, both for and against, in the press. This 45 minute documentary, captures parts of one recurring element of this debate – the annual ‘March For England’ held by British nationalists, this year as in recent times held in Brighton, in an unbiased manner, taking in the opinions of those on the march, those protesting against it in groups such as Unite Against Fascism (UAF), and documenting the events of the day in general.
Considering that the debate itself is such a prominent and heated one, the general success of the people behind the film, production company Racked Entertainment, should be commended. While coverage of the debate is nothing new, nor is the ‘fly-on-the-wall’ element, what the film does is successfully place the camera as the audience’s proxy; whilst most of the audience watching is more than likely to have an opinion one way or another, here it is almost more of a ‘bird’s eye’ view – we’re there, but not truly a part of events either way.
Interestingly enough, the narration states the intent to mediate a discussion between the two sides, an ambition that is soon seen to be unrealistic at best, as conflict breaks out frequently. In this way, the film is almost a microcosm of that failure itself – starting first calmly, speaking to prominent marchers about their views and why they are marching. The footage then slowly becomes more anarchic, as the march becomes a demo, and the atmosphere intensifies. The main bulk of the film then shows the hostilities between marchers and protesters, interspersed with snippets of interview footage with some of those involved.
The footage itself is at times an engrossing watch; much like the rather more prominent and high-budget documentary The Square – which focused on the Egyptian Revolutions (more popularly referred to as part of the ‘Arab Spring’). It captures events in amongst the action, generating a superb kinetic energy on-screen as it unfolds. Certainly some of this, it must be admitted, comes from seeing familiar landmarks (as a Brighton resident) staging such chaos, but there is definitely a very real tone to the film – the footage is not colour graded, it is not doctored, it is simply presented as it occurred, leaving the opinion to the audience.
If there is one area where the film falls down, it is perhaps in it’s composition with regard to the subjects shown on screen. While the presentation is undoubtedly unbiased, and both sides are interviewed and shown, there is a definite focus upon the marchers. The two main subjects throughout the film, Tommy English, who runs the EDL’s LGBT wing, and an unnamed man, have far more time on screen compared to those from UAF, for example. While the fact that the documentary is told from ‘the other side of the cordon’ is not lost, it does leave the experience ever so slightly one-sided. Equally missing, as an aside, is the lack of dialogue from bystanders, those neither on the march nor protesting against it.
Had both those elements been slightly different, then the film would be the peak version of itself, but regardless, the film is one that’s thought-provoking, well-presented, and certainly worth a watch with regard to the subject matter, or simply as a standalone film if the politics is off-putting.