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My Ain Folk (1973)


Main image of My Ain Folk (1973)
16mm, black and white (part colour), 55 mins
DirectorBill Douglas
Production CompanyBritish Film Institute Production Board
ProducerNick Nascht
ScreenplayBill Douglas
PhotographyGale Tattersall

Cast: Stephen Archibald (Jamie); Hughie Restorick (Tommy); Jean Taylor Smith (grandmother); Bernard Mckenna (Tommy's father); Mr. Munro (Jamie's grandfather)

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When Jamie's maternal grandmother dies, he and his brother Tommy are separated - Tommy is taken off to a welfare home and Jamie goes to live with his other grandmother and uncle. His life is far from happy, filled with silence, rejection and bouts of violence.

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My Ain Folk (1973) was made immediately after Bill Douglas' My Childhood (1972), again with the support of the BFI Production Board. An increased budget of £12,000 allowed a 55 minute running time, and an opening Technicolor extract from Lassie Comes Home (US, d. Fred M. Wilcox, 1943). This quickly gives way to black-and-white shots of Newcraighall at its bleakest.

The second film of the trilogy is in many ways the harshest. It features many of the same cast members as the earlier films, most notably Stephen Archibald as Jamie, now even more the centre of the narrative, and Jamie's childhood continues to be occasionally relieved by moments of companionship, but a greater emphasis is placed on the boy being alone in an unsympathetic world, subject to both psychological and physical brutality. The structure of the film becomes more fragmented, the images more condensed.

Near the beginning, titles announce that "Granny died leaving Tommy and me to fend for ourselves", and "Tommy had no idea where his father was but I knew where to find mine", but then "As things turned out I wasn't sure about anything". If it is easy for the audience to share Jamie's bewilderment and disorientation, that is partly how the film works, providing moments of remembrances that searingly evoke childhood at its most painfully mystifying.

Guy Barefoot

*This film is included in the BFI DVD and Blu-ray compilations The Bill Douglas Trilogy.

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Video Clips
1. Opening scenes (6:03)
2. Tommy's letter (8:41)
3. End of film (3:55)
Complete film (53:09)
Original Trilogy poster
Production stills
Comrades (1986)
Kes (1969)
My Childhood (1972)
My Way Home (1978)
Douglas, Bill (1934-1991)
The BFI Production Board: The Features