Bait: Tradition meets tourism on the Cornish coast

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Bait is available to rent, buy or stream now.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mark Jenkin’s Cornish fishing tale is a masterclass in art and social commentary, providing us with a hypnotic and salty soap opera that defies genre boundaries. Here Jenkin wraps his grainy tale in 16mm black and white film as old and new collide on the Cornish coast with explosive results. Martin Ward (Edward Rowe) is a fisherman who scrapes a living together within a rapidly changing community. Here, the community where he once served fish daily is now a playground for tourists, holidaymakers and those who can afford a coastal summer home – the industry and career he loves disappearing through industrial decline. These changes have led Martin’s brother (Giles King) to use the family fishing boat as a ferry for tourists. At the same time, many of Martin’s fishermen friends have replaced the waves with taxis to make ends meet.


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Meanwhile, Martin’s childhood cottage has recently been sold to a family from London, who intend to use it as a holiday home. As a result, Martin makes the London family’s life as difficult as possible, with the new owners, Sandra and Tim Leigh (Mary Woodvine and Simon Shepherd) and their children (Georgia Ellery and Jowan Jacobs), unaware of the hurt their presence causes. However, there is a glimmer of hope for Martin when his teenage nephew Neil (Isaac Woodvine) shows an interest in embracing the fishing traditions he holds dear. But as events spiral out of control throughout one summer, a simmering conflict between tradition, community and tourism will lead to a devastating final act.

Mark Jenkin’s hand-processed and aged 16mm gem carries the feel of a long lost film suddenly rediscovered hidden under someone’s floorboards. Here the film itself is a character in the exploration of tradition vs tourism as Jenkin unpicks the challenges facing our coastal communities. The result is a movie that seduces its audience with a beautiful, salty, seaweed coated photographic study of community change.


Director: Mark Jenkin

Cast: Edward RoweMary WoodvineSimon Shepherd