On the outskirts of Birmingham and the margins of society, the Billingham family performs extreme rituals and breaks cultural taboos as it muddles through a life decided by factors beyond its control. At times shocking and laced with an unsettling humour, three episodes unfold as a powerful evocation of experience of growing up in a Black Country council flat.
In 1990s, alcohol makes Richard's father Ray a prisoner in his own bedroom. Ray’s estranged wife Liz and neighbour Sid battle for control of Ray, who remains hopeful that Liz will return to him, she does, every Thursday, to collect what’s left of his dole money. A couple of decades or so earlier, Richard’s younger brother Jason – then three years old – is left alone with his hapless Uncle Lol. Will, the lodger, tricks Lol into drinking the stash of alcohol hidden in the house and neglecting Jason. Liz violently punishes Lol upon her return. At around nine years old, Jason, is left to his own devices, when Jason stays out for three nights and almost dies of exposure, he is finally taken into care. When a social worker breaks the news to Ray and Liz, Liz cries a little, but quickly forgets ...

Director's Biography

In 1997, Richard Billingham was the first recipient of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize and the following year BBC2 broadcast his film FISHTANK, produced by Artangel and filmmaker Adam Curtis. He exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2001 and was nominated for the Turner Prize, also in 2001. He has made work about his immediate family, about animals in zoos around the world and about the British landscape. His work is held in many collections including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, V & A and Tate Galleries, London.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Richard Billingham

Written by: Richard Billingham

Produced by: Jacqui Davies

Cinematography: Daniel Landin

Editing: Tracy Granger

Sound Design: Joakim Sundström

Main Cast: Ella Smith (Liz), Justin Salinger (Ray)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Discovery - Prix Fipresci 2019