Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"A conversation about whether if you're hungry "you'll eat anything" hangs in the air as something for us all to chew on." | Photo: Courtesy of Doc/Fest

There are now about 2,000 food banks in the UK, with the Trussell Trust - which runs in the region of 1,200 of those, giving out 823,000 three-day emergency supply packages in the six months to September 2019, a rise of 23 per cent on the year before. Carol Salter's nine-minute short Breadline takes us inside just one of them to see what goes on there at close quarters.

The Mustard Seed Group is based in Fleetwood, Lancashire, a small seaside town in England's northwest, with shots of the beach on an overcast day, complete with the mournful cry of seagulls and whistle of the wind setting the tone for this short. At Mustard Seed, we watch elderly volunteer Dave Simm as he wrangles supplies and helps those who need them. Presented without commentary, we are left to draw our own conclusions from the signs reading "Three items per person" or Dave having to tell someone that certain foods are all gone for the day. A conversation about whether if you're hungry "you'll eat anything" hangs in the air as something for us all to chew on.

There are interludes of quiet, as Dave carefully packages eggs into boxes of four, followed by moments of bustle as multiple people pop in for basic supplies. Slater, who shot the film herself, keeps her focus tight, so that she captures the comings and goings while also protecting the anonymity of those who are using the service.

Radio reports bookend the film. One outlines the pressure on food banks since the UK Government rolled out its controversial Universal Credit scheme, the other is a snippet from former Chancellor Phillip Hammond's budget speech in 2017 praising the "strength and resilience" of the economy - the disconnect between the two made more resonant by the footage that has gone before.

After watching Slater's short, you may well find yourself wondering how to donate to a food bank yourself - and you can find details here.

Reviewed on: 03 Jul 2020
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The day-to-day workings of a food bank.

Director: Carol Slater

Year: 2020

Runtime: 9 minutes

Country: UK


Doc/Fest 2020

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