Filmed over ten years, this observational documentary offers an extraordinary opportunity to observe the care system in operation, and to consider the impact it has on the lives of two 12 year old twins - Mark and Jason Cox.
The story starts when Durham Social Services are called to a house following a report that a man with a drink problem has hit one of his sons.
The man, Tom Cox, is unapologetic - he says he hit Mark because Mark had stolen some of his money off the mantelpiece. It emerges that Tom lives alone with Mark and Jason because his wife, their mother, had been killed in a car crash three years earlier. Mark and Jason had been in the car with her when it had happened.
With unprecedented access the film follows both sides of the story as social services become increasingly concerned about the twins’ physical and emotional well being. For his part, Tom strongly resents the stream of social workers continually visiting his house and questioning him - he receives their attentions as thinly disguised threats to break up his family. As one party inflames the other, the boys’ behaviour deteriorates - they are excluded from school and come to the attention of the police. Then Mark runs away. After 12 eventful weeks, the boys are removed from the care of their father.
Ten years later, the film revisits the boys to find out what happened after they were taken into care. After spending their teenage years in a series of foster homes their lives have deteriorated further. Mark is just out of jail and has a significant criminal record. Jason is struggling to stay out of trouble and lives on the breadline. Ten years ago they were both bright and optimistic - today their prospects are bleak.
The film shows how the key decisions that shaped the boys' lives were taken. It also raises questions about the social policy that caused the twins to be removed from their father, and about the quality of the alternative care that the state then provided.
This moving and important film won the RTS Best Documentary award.