Interview conducted by Leeds Beckett University Business School journalism student, Nathaniel Hardy-Doughty. Leeds Beckett Universities Northern Film School is the official education partner of the Harrogate Film Festival.
Harrogate Film Festival was hosted over the last weekend with plenty of talented directors and documentarians showcasing their projects. There were many screenings throughout the weekend covering all genres, with the audience voting on their favorite at the end.
A documentary that got plenty of interest was ‘Goths Own Country’ which focused on goth culture. More specifically the Whitby Goth Weekend which takes place twice a year, and sees goths from all over the globe unite to have a fun weekend in Whitby. The documentary has interviews from people from all walks of life and attempts to tell the stories of some regulars that attend the weekend, as well as some of the Whitby residents.
Most of the documentaries shown all had a positive message to give, with a documentary about patterns in nature having a tribute to Alan Turing. There was also a documentary about the otherwise vilified monsters that are mosquitoes. There was a ‘always look at the bright side’ message that the documentaries tried to convey.
The ‘Goths Own Country’ documentary did a good job at painting the goths in a more positive light. The interviews used were lighthearted and really offered an insight into a group that is often mocked with little to no real knowledge on the culture. This is something that the Director Ferdie Simon says he tried to be conscious of. He said “I feel they (goths) can be very sensitive or guarded when it comes to things like this. Every year The Guardian runs a photo essay on the subject saying, ‘look at people dressing up in Whitby, how weird’ So they are quite suspicious of film crews and documentarians, so that’s a challenge we had to face and be aware of”
Jamie Curtis-Hayward, the director of photography said: “We had a sensitive line of questioning, it was more in depth than just ‘what do you like to wear’ so we avoided any questions that may just extenuate the oddity of it.”
And while the documentary kept this lighthearted, it didn’t stray into ‘mocking’ territory. While some of the audience members had a chuckle or a smile at some point, it was usually in appreciation of the enjoyment these goths take from the event, or in reaction to a goth dispelling a common misconception. The documentary had a sort of ‘Louis Theroux Weird Weekends’ vibe to it which was endearing to watch.
It was heartwarming to see the respect from both the audience and the documentarians when tackling some of the weirder aspects of our society.
The audience was diverse, but everyone left the screening happy. No matter what age, race or background, I feel everybody took something positive away from the documentary screening as well as the Harrogate Film Festival.
Nathaniel Hardy-Doughty, Journalism Student
Leeds Beckett University