UK, 1994 (MIFF 1995, Documentaries)
Director: Kim Flitcroft
Exploitation, in its many guises, is at the heart of this gritty, often heartbreakingly humorous documentary (an accusation that the film itself is not immune from) about the somewhat deluded aspirations of four desperados trying to make it in (or is that out of) the economically depressed northern England metropolis of Sheffield. Each are held in thrall to tabloid fodder-inspired dreams of fame and fortune to the point that Tales From a Hard City at times seems more like an incredible fiction rather than harsh in-your-face reality.
There's Glen, the petty thief and local Karaoke king; Sarah, who's trying to parley her arrest in Greece for provocative disco moves into a musical career with the single 'Dirty Dancing'; Wayne, the bar owner and cigar sucking would-be media mogul who's taken her under his rather predatory wing: and Paul, the ex-boxer come fledgling actor who has his sights set on a prestige car sponsorship deal-though he doesn't have his licence and ends up in the Skoda caryard!
All bare themselves before Kim Flitcroft's relentlessly inquiring camera with a suicidal candour that is difficult to look at but almost impossible to turn away from—voyeurism has never been so painful.