Postcards from the 48%: A Brexit documentary

Remainers against Brexit is perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of documentary subject matter, but Postcards from the 48% is a fascinating look at the issues around Brexit, and those that still protest it.

Directed by David Wilkinson of Guerilla Films, Postcards charts the course of Brexit both in the run up and aftermath of the referendum. Speaking to people from all walks of life, from young activists, to a Holocaust survivor, who sadly passed away before the film was released.

While Wilkinson hopes to have the documentary broadcast on television, in the meantime, he has been taking the film on a tour of the UK and Ireland since its release in July 2018, with over 40 screenings around the British Isles.

It’s a lengthy watch (114 minutes), but no less interesting for it. And indeed, as a staunch supporter of Remain, I found myself seemingly cycling through the stages of grief all over again as I watched the film.

But that wasn’t the mood I was left with. While I’d cycled through varying emotions – and indeed at one point had to leave to go quietly scream in frustration, by the end, I, and others in the audience, began to feel cautiously optimistic that there is still a possibility of stopping Brexit.

Wilkinson had a very simple reason for making the film, as he explained after the screening:

“[I wanted to] To show the other 27 EU Member Dates that it was far from a landslide victory and over 16 million voted Remain.

“Just over 17 million have voted for 65 million to Leave the EU. No one under 18 had a say in their future, and it is their future, not the future of the majority of old people who voted to Leave. They will be long dead when all the problems really kick in if we leave.”

Postcards also touches on issues that very few people even considered before the referendum.

“The points have not changed – both sides, Remain and Leave lied during the referendum campaign. Nobody really mentioned Northern Ireland, apart from John Major,” Wilkinson pointed out.

In the film, Wilkinson talks to people from Derry, who are seriously concerned as to the impact that Brexit will have on the Good Friday Agreement. It’s unsurprising that those in Ireland, both North and Republic are concerned – the Northern Ireland Conflict was only 20 years ago, and still very much fresh in the memory of those affected.

The young have been ignored or forgotten. If I were young I would want to put my head in the sand

One issue that did come up – both in the film and the Q&A that followed, was that of young people. While Wilkinson spoke to activists such as Madeleina Kay, who we’ve spoken to previously, and Femi Oluwole of Our Future Our Choice, they were still sadly in the minority. But it was something Wilkinson understood, unlike one critic in the audience at the Hebden Bridge screening.

Madeleina Kay, better known as EU Supergirl

“The young have been ignored or forgotten. If I were young I would want to put my head in the sand. In 1975 I nearly bought a 3 bedroomed house in [West Yorkshire] for just £250.” (£2036 adjusted for inflation).” Wilkinson said.

“In 1974 I should have gone to drama school. I was awarded a full grant AND my living costs which did not have to be repaid. I had a life-saving operation in 1974 and in those days, there were no waiting times for anything in the NHS – I could go on.

“It would be great if they engaged more. But I totally understand why so many think it is hopeless.” He added.

Reception for the film has been a mixed bag. While many of the screenings have been a case of preaching to the converted, there have been a few people that have stuck out in Wilkinson’s memory.

“I keep expecting people to come and tell me that ‘well you got that wrong, and that’s wrong’ and take me on like you do. [One critical Leave voter] dismissed the entire film because the points that I’d brought up…were the same points that we ‘remoaners’ keep going on and on and on about, and I found it extraordinary that he thinks that that’s a reason to talk down our arguments.”

Some interesting viewpoints revealed through the course of the documentary’s tour throughout the UK. Obviously, some people had changed their minds already, while for others the documentary was the last straw.

The tour also revealed some of the more interesting reasons for leaving the EU out there, as Wilkinson explained:

“I met a fascinating man in Manchester who said he had voted leave for religious reasons, and I thought, that’s very interesting, nobody had ever said that before, so I had to pick him up on it…and basically it all went back to the book of common prayer which is 17th century and his view is that the EU was a way for the pope to come back and take control. And this was a very educated man.”

As mentioned, Wilkinson hopes to get his documentary a television broadcast, and he’s hopeful for a positive response. After all, he has the interest of both the public and the press, two of the most important things when aiming for syndication. But not all the press reviewed the film, despite an initial interest.

“Three papers that never normally get in touch, did – The Mail, The Sun and The Express – and I was surprised by that, because I have a mole in the Mail.” Wilkinson said.

“I know that they were sort of planning something because I saw one of their journalists eyeing me and making notes when I was filming, and the mole said yes, they’re going to do something. But they didn’t.”

“And my feeling is, they could have said ‘oh it’s far too long, David Wilkinson is a terrible presenter, why did he have Nick Clegg in it’, and sort of rubbish from that superficial level, but if they wanted to take apart the argument, which is what they would have to do if they were going to criticise it, they would have to take on each of the points.

“And I think they, all of them decided – it’s too much of a coincidence that all of them decided that it would be best to totally ignore it, because if they started to discuss it in the review, it might alert their readers to question things.”

Whether Wilkinson is correct or not remains to be seen, but as the film was released digitally on October 1st, perhaps more people will see it. If you are interested in seeing the film, you can view the trailer here, or buy it here.

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