Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Short films are often used as the cinematic equivalent of a one-liner. There's a short build up, then, bang, in with the punchline and away, leaving barely a trace.

Short documentaries are different. Necessarily pithy due to their short span, they often realise a greater truth than much longer offerings. TOTH is one such short - funded as part of Scotland's Cineworks film funding scheme.

TOTH stands for Top of The Hill, an alternative name for Dundee's notorious Hilltown district. It might be at the top of the hill but socially it's struggling and this perceptive short follows a dad's attempts to stop his son Steven following in his footsteps.

Dad is all too aware of what it means to be a TOTH - to be in a gang, fighting and drinking and marking your turf. He was one and it's led him to heartache. "It's time to heal the past," he says. "There comes a point when there's a time to reconnect."

It is this attempt at reconnection and reconciliation as he tries to get young teen Steven out from under the influence of gangs. First we see them talking in the concrete jungle where they live, then out in the countryside, catching fish.

This isn't a rose-coloured view of life in a dysfunctional family, it's full of tough moments. You see Dad getting too tough on occasion and his son struggling to see a different path. Overall, this documentary manages to capture the raw emotions of life at the tough end, without being judgemental or intruding too much on what are obviously very personal moments. You can't ask for much more than that.

Reviewed on: 02 Oct 2005
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Documentary about a man trying to stop his son making the same mistakes he did.

Director: Dylan Drummond, Blair Scott

Year: 2005

Runtime: 9 minutes

Country: UK (Scotland)


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