August 23, 2019
Forget Poldark’s pecs – with his film Bait, Mark Jenkin has captured the real Cornwall, a place of struggling locals and second-homeowners in simmering conflict
Rocking the boat: how Cornish class war inspired a masterpiece
Twenty years ago, Mark Jenkin returned to his boyhood home in north Cornwall to shoot his debut film, Golden Burn, about the tensions between local lads and the owner of a caravan park. Jenkin had been studying in Bournemouth, then living in London and would soon move back permanently. “What’s your Cornwall?” his character asks. “Weekend getaway, summer retreat, Cornish pasties and clotted cream, pixies? Or is it your home? Not your second home – your only home?”
While he was filming in Porthcothan, Jenkin thought up another film, this one about a Cornish civil war. It was August 1999 and thousands of visitors were driving out of the county on the A30, then a single lane, after witnessing the solar eclipse. Named in tribute to Peter Watkins’s 1971 spoof documentary Punishment Park, The Holiday Park would be “like an Ealing comedy where the locals rose up against mass tourism, ending with the military carpet-bombing the whole of Cornwall, wiping it out and starting again,” Jenkin explains.
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