Shed Your Tears and Walk Away
Director Jez Lewis (2009)
said there's no such thing as bad publicity, but product placement may
be another matter. The leading characters in Shed Your Tears and Walk
Away, Cass and Silly and the rest, hang onto their Special Brew for grim
death. Literally grim death for some. Too many.
Brew is the badge they wear. A motif that stitches together roughly
edited scenes, holding them together with as sure a grip as the street
drinkers on their cans, swigging in nervous impatient gulps.
if this unsolicited product placement did the brand any good Carlsberg
would surely by now have pulled whatever strings are necessary to make
sure more people see this remarkable documentary.
to a mention on Twitter I saw it, among a dozen others, at a special
screening in the Christian Aid headquarters at Waterloo. Director Jez
Lewis, who worked on Ghosts with the great Nick Broomfield, was there,
too. He made Shed Your Tears over a year ago after noticing that the
kids he grew up with in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, were dying. They were
committing suicide or, as good as, killing themselves with drink and
camera sails in from the green hills and falls on Hebden, beautiful and
deadly in its hollow. Lewis does not so much film the drinkers sucking
away their hours in the park as join them. For a while we're immersed in
this community, the faces and voices whirl around us.
it is a true community. When Cass leaves for rehab the first time it's a
terrible wrench. It's only a couple of weeks but everyone knows that if
he succeeds he may not be back, that he’s been told he has two years
to live if he carries on like this and he has to leave them behind if
he’s to save himself.
his best friend, is off the heroin, but that only means he remembers.
Silly joined the Foreign Legion and was a good soldier, which means he
killed people, and now the memories are killing him, and when he drinks
is lucky that he’s got a job with his dad’s firm, but his brother
Sam has accidentally died after taking various drugs and drinking a lot
of alcohol. It’s Liam who keeps
Lewis to his harrowing project, urging him to tell the story, to tell
the world what’s happening in Hebden. The authorities are in denial
and the truth has to get out. Shortly after the filming ends Liam, too,
That’s the big enveloping question Shed Your Tears doesn’t
explicitly answer. Lewis is too good a film-maker for that. So
afterwards I asked him.
lost its industry back in the 1960s. There aren’t enough jobs. Hippies
moved in and brought drugs with them. It comes through in what the
people say in the film that they feel the town’s been taken away from
them. That they have no place in it, no purpose. They drink and drug
because they’re bored, a couple of them say. Which hardly sounds like
a good reason but it depends what you mean by bored. Somebody ought to
write a book on bored.
has another word for it. “Dispossession,” he says. “It’s
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