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Published on Apr 27, 2010
Part documentary, part intervention, Shed Your Tears and Walk Away sees first-time documentary maker Jez Lewis return to his home town to find out why so many of his childhood friends are dying of drug overdoses and committing suicide.
The documentary follows Lewiss return to Hebden Bridge, a pretty little Yorkshire market town, where he meets with an old friend Cass, who has recently been told by his doctor that if he continues his current lifestyle he will be dead in two years.
Cass looks like a punch drunk Mickey Rourke, stumbling and slurring, but he is a charming and articulate subject who knows Hebden Bridge intimately. Around him his friends and relatives are dying mostly due to their addictions. Cass doesn't want to be just another statistic and enrols himself in a detox programme. Seeing Cass struggling to get clean, Lewis decides that he cant just stand by and watch. The latter half of the film sees Lewis increasingly involved in seeing his mate through rehab.
When The Good Woman of Bangkok was released in 1991 it generated considerable controversy for its unsettling blurring of the lines between auteur and subject as the documentarian, Dennis ORourke, famously began a sexual relationship with his Thai prostitute subject. Should the director of Shed Your Tears have remained neutral and not intervened? It is hard to know exactly. Considering he was already friends with his subjects it is perhaps little wonder then that he wished to help. That he did so at the expense of his own professional objectivity only underlines Lewiss great humanity. A humanity which powerfully permeates this moving debut.