In May 1951 a profoundly deaf Scotsman called James Duthie (known by his friends as ‘Dummy Jim’) cycled solo to the Arctic Circle. The 6,000-mile trip took him three months, on a budget of just £12.
Fifty years later, artist-director Matt Hulse was given a copy of Duthie’s little-known journal, I Cycled into the Arctic Circle, by his mother and was inspired to tell the story. Created as part of a wider cross-platform project and crowdfunded through pioneering techniques predating Kickstarter, Hulse’s own adventure was 13 years in the making.
In essence, Dummy Jim is a straightforward road movie chronicling an eccentric’s bike journey from Scotland to the far North of Norway. But Hulse’s re-telling is a layered one - playfully weaving archive footage with re- enactment, live action with hand-drawn animation, and Super-8 with digital. Archive clips act as postcards from the Highlands, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway as Duthie pedals northwards, commenting on his surroundings and inventing proverbs as he goes.
Profoundly deaf actor Samuel Dore leads in this playful adventure, which shares with its audience the processes that have brought Duthie’s story to the silver screen. Topsy-turvy quartet The One Ensemble lead a bizarre journey through a newly composed musical score, while the story is narrated by Dore and the children of Inverallochy School, who read from Duthie’s original journal – with subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing. The richly textured sound design is complemented by the ‘live’ on-screen knitting of a Shetland jumper, adding a texture you’ve never seen before on a flat screen.
Dummy Jim had its world premiere at Rotterdam International Film Festival this year, and at its UK premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival was nominated for the Michael Powell Award.
To find out what Dummy Jim did next, check out Matt Hulse's new installation, Better To Wear Out Shoes than Sheets, commissioned by the Festival, which will be presented each day in the Gymnasium Gallery.
Our presentation in Berwick includes a live Q&A with director Matt Hulse and lead actor Samuel Dore, British Sign Language-interpreted for the deaf, supported by Community Foundation.
“Matt Hulse’s second feature is both very beautiful and utterly bonkers”
– Miles Fielder, The List
Matt Hulse is an artist-filmmaker, best known for his award-winning shorts and first feature documentary, Follow The Master (2009). He works with text, web, music, sound, performance, live events and the? community to articulate and share his curiosity and observations. His work is playful, innovative and collaborative, crossing and combining genres, techniques and platforms. Hulse’s films have screened at festivals internationally since 1990, including International Film Festival Rotterdam. Hulse is founder-curator of the Audible Picture Show, a touring presentation of audio art works for darkened cinemas, and has run Sign Language Cinema, a festival of deaf moving-image culture, since 2009. Dummy Jim (2013) is his second feature.
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