Life was tough back in 1949. Clement Attlee's landslide Labour government might have been nationalising for all it was worth while laying the foundations of the Welfare State, but Britain was still a bombsite and rationing had deprived the populace of the few pleasures that might have made the period of postwar austerity a bit more bearable. Thus, when Ealing released Alexander Mackendrick's waspish adaptation of Compton Mackenzie's satirical novel, Whisky Galore!, everyone in the audience could identify with the Scottish islanders seeking to pull a fast one on the Customs and Excise men.

Seven decades on and times are still tough. Brexit has divided the nation and cast a shroud of uncertainty over its immediate future, which is made all the more unpredictable by the Scottish Question. There may be no rationing, but there are food banks and people are more mistrustful of authority than ever before. But, rather than drawing parallels between then and now, Gilles MacKinnon's remake of Whisky Galore! opts for a cosy patina of nostalgia that makes this entirely redundant exercise feel like a pilot for Last of the Summer Scotch.

Tucked away in the Outer Hebrides, the residents of the island of Todday have scarcely been inconvenienced by the Second World War. Indeed, the only suggestion that something is amiss is the presence of the local Home Guard commander, Captain Cyril Waggett (Eddie Izzard). An old school pompous buffoon, he takes his duties very seriously and scarcely notices that his wife, Dolly (Fenella Woolgar), is forever teasing him about the futility of his sinecure.

Down in the village, the morale of the locals is sapped when landlord Bain (Ken Drury) announces that his whisky supply has run out and ferry skipper Mckechnie (Matt Costello) compounds the situation by being unable to secure a fresh stock. While Waggett gets himself into a tizzy about a consignment of unsuitable ammunition, widowed postmaster Joseph Macroon (Gregor Fisher) bemoans the fact that his daughters, Peggy (Naomi Battrick) and Catriona (Ellie Kendrick), are fast approaching the age when they will leave him to set up homes of their own.

Tearing herself away from newspaper headlines about the scandalous behaviour of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Peggy delights in the arrival of her beau, Sergeant Odd (Sean Biggerstaff). He is on leave after seeing action in North Africa and seeks out Minister MacAlister (James Cosmo) for some advice on how to persuade Macroon into giving his consent for a marriage. But Catriona has a further obstacle blocking her engagement to milquetoast schoolmaster George Campbell (Kevin Guthrie), as his forbidding mother (Annie Louise Ross) refuses to let Catriona come for tea, let alone steal her boy away.

Across the island, Waggett supervises Angus (Brian Pettifer), Sammy (Iain Robertson) and Biffer (Anthony Strachan) in the erection of a checkpoint to prevent Nazi troops from taking the island by force. He bluffs his way to a solution when Odd points out that all an unlikely invader would have to do to circumvent his precautions is approach from the opposite direction. But he falls foul of Doctor McLaren (John Sessions), who resents having his car stopped after spending the night delivering twins to the wife of a serving soldier who has been having an affair with Sammy.

Two weeks into the drought, Macroon laments that the platoon is suffering so badly from whisky withdrawal that it wouldn't be a fair fight if Hitler chose to attack. Old Roddy (Sean Scanlan) is also feeling the effects and confides to Dr McLaren that he would like one more dram before he dies. A fog descends and the islanders worry for the freighter SS Cabinet Minister as it negotiates the skerries off the coast. But Captain Buncher (Mike Tibbetts) steers straight on to them and Biffer and Sammy row out to discover that the ship is carrying sundry items for the Bahamas and 50,000 cases of whisky for New York.

Quickly realising that there are 12 bottles in each case, Sammy and Biffer relay the good news to the villagers. But, while they get the stranded crew tucked up in a nearby boarding house, they are prevented from liberating the cargo by the strictly sabbatarian MacAlister. He preaches a brimstone sermon, but stops short of condemning the recovery of the whisky. But Waggett is determined to prevent any looting and tries to order his men to keep watch over the stricken ship. But Mrs Campbell locks George in his room for disobeying the Commandments and he is forced to put Odd on duty overnight. He has gone to see Macroon about marrying Peggy and is informed that nothing can be guaranteed until two cases of whisky have been obtained to hold the traditional reiteach celebration.

Prepared to collude with the locals in order to get two cases of Macroon's choice, Odd allows himself to be tied up so that a flotilla of small boats can row out to the wreck in the small hours of Monday morning. Also keeping an eye on the Cabinet Minister is Brown (Michael Nardone), who claims to be a tweed salesman, but who is keen to recover a red case from the captain's cabin. Revealing himself to be from the Ministry of Defence, he places a call to Waggett from the island's only phone box in the knowledge it will be overheard by Macroon, who about to join the rescue party.

He finds the case just as the ship lurches and starts to slip off the rocks. But, while they have to make a hasty getaway, the villagers manage to salvage several cases of whisky and they smuggle them ashore and hide them in a cave before Waggett relieves Odd on the headland. While they have a party at the pub (much to the annoyance of Bain, who serves drinks he cannot charge for), Waggett contacts his mainland commander, Woolsey (Tim Pigott-Smith), who is more interested in getting a couple of contraband cases for himself than in helping Waggett prevent a little petty pilfering. Brown is equally eager to retrieve the leather case and Macroon discovers why when he finds it contains love letters from the abdicated Edward VIII to Wallis Simpson.

Canny enough to recognise he has an important bargaining chip, Macroon does his best to thwart Waggett and Constable McPhee (Ciaron Kelly), as they search for the recovered cargo. But the islanders are attending the reiteach, where Macroon makes a sentimental speech about his daughters and his much-lamented wife before MacAlister confirms that he will marry the happy couples on the solstice. They also fortify George so he can go home and inform his mother that she will have to move out unless she accepts Catriona.

Unfortunately, Waggett overhears the music and forces McPhee into conducting a house-to-house search. He begins with Bain, who is so fed up with losing custom that he tells Waggett where the cases are hidden and he speeds across the island to the cave in Seal Bay. Knowing that Peggy will eavesdrop on his call, Waggett makes arrangements to consult Woolsey about his unwanted ammunition. But, while he really intends making contact with exciseman Farquharson (Kevin Mains), Macroon cuts a deal with Brown to arrange for Waggett to be transferred in return for the safe handover of the case.

Brown also tips off Macroon that Farquharson is on his way. But he is just as much a stuffed shirt as Waggett and insists on searching homesteads rather than going straight to the cave. While they waste their time with Macroon, his neighbours hide their bottles around the island and, after Bain confesses to his treachery, a lorry races to Seal Bay to remove the cases before the Customs cutter can dock. Islanders cycle to the cave and form a line to load up the whisky so the truck can depart just before Waggett and Farquharson arrive. But they run out of petrol and have to fill the tank with spirits to make good their getaway, as Angus holds up Waggett on the road on the pretext he is an impostor.

They are further delayed by slow-moving cyclists on the narrow road and Waggett's misery is compounded when Farquharson learns from the mainland that several bottles of whisky have been hidden in the ammunition box whose contents had been personally guaranteed by Waggett himself. Thus, unlike Mrs Campbell, he misses the double wedding and the ceidlidh that goes on into the night, with Macroon dancing alongside his girls, as there was never yet a wind that didn't fill somebody's sails.

Producer Iain Maclean first mooted revisiting this classic Ealing comedy in 2004, with Bill Bryden attached to overhaul Compton Mackenzie and Angus MacPhail's screenplay. However, the project was consigned to development hell two years later after Peter McDougall was hired as Bryden's replacement and Maclean was only able to spring it after he teamed up with Irishman Peter Drayne in 2014. Yet, despite the best efforts of all concerned, one is left to wonder why so much time and energy has been invested in a picture that fails to match (let alone improve upon) its illustrious predecessor in a single regard, while also having the temerity to reference the red phone box in Bill Forsyth's Local Hero (1983).

One must feel sympathy for the ensemble, as there is no way they can compete with the original cast, especially when the characters have been so thinly drawn. Although saddled with a stillborn subplot about the links between Hitler and the Windsors, Gregor Fisher does what he can to convey the rascally cunning of Wylie Watson, while Naomi Battrick captures something of Joan Greenwood's kittenish charisma. But Eddie Izzard fights a losing battle to make one forget the brilliance of Basil Radford's performance as Captain Waggett, although he can take solace from the fact that he fares no worse than Toby Jones did in filling the boots of Arthur Lowe in essaying Captain Wainwaring in Oliver Parker's execrably unnecessary retooling of Dad's Army (2016).

Cinematographer Nigel Willoughby achieves some shimmering views of the Western Isle locations, while Patrick Doyle's score mines musical cliché to achieve a disarmingly haunting quality. But, while those who know nothing of Alexander Mackendrick's version might be amused by the amiable storyline, the majority will be hugely disappointed by this soporific saga, whose lack of satirical subversion leaves one asking why the producers didn't opt for a Brexit variation on Henry Cornelius's Passport to Pimlico (1949) instead.

We remain on the Celtic fringe in wartime for Jim Sheridan's adaptation of Sebastian Barry's Booker nominee, The Secret Scripture. Ineptly unable to hide the scenario's big twist and often tying itself into narratorial knots as thinly sketched characters insist on behaving in the most peculiar manner, this often brings to mind Joe Wright's take on Ian McEwan's Atonement (2007), which also featured Vanessa Redgrave as an unreliable narrator whose recollections take the action back in time. But Sheridan and co-writer Johnny Ferguson (who died in 2013) struggle to keep contrivance and melodrama at bay, with the result that this falls a long way short of the directors previous collaborations with producer Noel Pearson on My Left Foot (1989) and The Field (1990).

Under the auspices of the archdiocese of Sligo, Dr William Grene (Eric Bana) comes to St Malachy's hospital to assess the condition of Roseanne McNulty (Vanessa Redgrave). Dr Hart (Adrian Dunbar) is keen to have her removed from premises that are about to be redeveloped into a hotel spa and has little sympathy with Rose and her ways. Thus, when workmen arrive to deposit all her belongings in a skip, he bawls out Nurse Caitlin (Susan Lynch) for trying to help Rose and gives her a sedative before testily agreeing to give Grene three days to assess Rose and make his recommendations for her future.

Rose has been at St Malachy's for almost 50 years for supposedly killing her infant son. Over the years, she has been scribbled her memories into the Book of Job in her Bible (changing the title to the `Book of Rose'). She explains to Grene that she would never have met her fighter pilot husband if `the terrible man with the moustache' had not declared war and we see Michael McNulty (Jack Reynor) swooping low over an Irish beach as the young Rose (Rooney Mara) looked up into the skies. However, after Rose arrives in Ballytivan after being bombed out of Belfast in 1940, she is quickly warned off McNulty by local IRA man McCabe (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), who remembers Rose from the funeral of her mother, who had worn mourning for the rest of her life after losing the husband who taught Rose to play the piano.

Father Gaunt (Theo James) also tries to put the free-spirited Rose in her place when he finds her swimming on a men only beach. He reminds her that women in Sligo only look directly into the eyes of their husbands, but she refuses to be intimidated and returns to the temperance café she helps run with her Aunt Eleanor (Aisling O'Sullivan). Yet he develops a crush on Rose and keeps bumping into her and offering her lifts in his car. As neighbours like Anne McCartney (Pauline McLynn) start to gossip, Eleanor threatens to fire Rose unless she stops seeing the priest. But he is not alone in pursuing her, as one of McCabe's associates, Jack Conroy (Aidan Turner), asks her on a date and she suggests she will consider it the day he gets some manners.

Back in the 1980s, Grene reads Rose's file and the annotations in her Bible and tries to piece together her history. But he does find a letter from Gaunt denouncing her as a nymphomaniac and the film flashes back to a village dance, where Jack and Gaunt get into a fight because the priest feels Rose is dancing too close to her partner. The punch-up appals Eleanor, who forces Rose to move back to the abandoned family cottage outside the village. It is filled with goats and chickens, but she enjoys walking in the surrounding countryside. Moreover, it enables her to offer sanctuary to Michael when his plane is shot down and she finds him hanging from a tree by his parachute. She cuts him down and helps him to hide before McCabe and his acolytes come searching for the traitor who volunteered for the RAF.

Jack shoots Rose a meaningful look as he leaves with McCabe. But her heart soon belongs to Michael after she learns about his heroism in trying to save a burning buddy after their plane had crashed. She tends to his injured hand, but when he hears Churchill extolling the virtues of the Few, he vows to return to his base. He starts repairing her father's old motorbike and she rewards him with a cigar after supper when he picks her some flowers for the kitchen table. Rose is also glad to have Michael around when Gaunt comes to the cottage and asks if she would consider becoming his housekeeper. But he returns shortly after Rose and Michael sleep together for the first time and leaves with a face like thunder after Michael opens the door.

He returns to the bedroom to propose and they use the band of a cigar for a ring, as they marry in a nearby church and celebrate by riding the motorbike along the wet beach. Rose takes a mental image of her beau, which remains in her mind as she plays Beethoven's `Moonlight Sonata' on the tinny upright piano at St Malachy's. She recalls her mother being consigned to the same asylum after she went mad with grief on being widowed.

Clinging to the cruciform medal Michael gives her, Rose is too much in love to fret about the possibility of history repeating itself. As they approach the cottage, she has a premonition and urges Michael to ride away before McCabe's men can capture him. But Gaunt has returned to the presbytery and written his recommendation that Rose should be detained for nymphomania and Aunt Eleanor tearfully gives her consent to the nun who presents her with the paperwork. Rose is taken to St Malachy's, where she is force fed by the intimidating Nurse O'Donnell (Lesa Thurman) before she is dispatched to a Magdalene Sisters home after she confides to Gaunt that she is pregnant.

The gossip among the nuns is that Gaunt is the father and Rose soon falls foul of Sister Mary (Geraldine McAlinden), who informs her that her child will be kept at the home rather than being put up for adoption. However, she lets slip in a sinister aside that not all of the poor mites survive being born into a cruel world. So, when she finds the laundry door open, Rose runs away and reaches the coast before Gaunt catches up with her. He sees her swim away on the tide and forces some policemen to row him around to the next bay, where he rushes ashore as Rose appears to be battering her newly born son with a stone.

Back with Grene and Caitlin (who have visited the scene that the psychiatrist recalls from childhood holidays), Rose insists that she merely cut the umbilical cord, but she concedes she has no idea what happened to her child. As they eat supper that night, Caitlin asks Grene about himself and he does an impression of his dying father trying to tell him something about his mother. He presumes he wanted him to know his late mother had adored him, but had always known that, as she had been smotheringly doting.

Returned to St Malachy's, Rose had been told of her baby's death by Nurse O'Donnell, who seems more sympathetic towards her. But Rose is still subjected to electro-shock therapy and mistakes the visiting Gaunt for Michael. He breaks the news that Michael was executed by McCabe and she lashes out at the priest while accusing him of causing her husband's murder. She is confined to a solitary cell and spends her time writing in her Bible.

As dawn breaks, Caitlin reads while Grene dozes in a chair beside Rose's bed. She has begun to realise that Grene could well be Rose's and the discovery they share a MayDay birth sends Grene scurrying back to the family home that is about to be sold. Among some papers kept in a box in the attic, he finds a sealed letter. On reading its contents, he tears down the estate agent sign and rushes back to St Malachy's, where Rose is waiting to be transferred.

Holding back the tears, Caitlin looks on as Grene shows Rose a letter from his father that reveals that Gaunt saved her child on the beach and entrusted him to the parents who would raise him. The man of few words apologises for not being able to tell Grene the truth, but hopes he will be proud of the medal that was awarded to his real father and which he encloses in the envelope. Rose is confused, but seems to realise that Grene has come to take her home and Caitlin looks on, as mother and son walk on the beach where he was born.

Fans of the book will leave cinemas with heavy hearts to the sound of a Kelly Clarkson power ballad that rams home the gauche mawkishness that suffuses this hugely disappointing picture. Sheridan must shoulder the blame for the novelettish tone, as plumps for far-fetched melodramatics in downplaying the themes of family, fate, paternalism, sectarianism and history that had informed such Barry tomes as The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998) and A Long Long Way (2005). He also presumably sanctioned the relentless use of Brian Byrne's crudely manipulative score, which often leaves this visually handsome feature feeling like a Mills & Boon teleplay.

Despite being saddled with some sub-standard dialogue, Vanessa Redgrave is typically compelling as Lady Rose. But Sheridan and Ferguson struggle to incorporate Eric Bana and Susan Lynch into a private torment that is rendered almost soap operatic by the caricatured rantings of Adrian Dunbar's asylum director. Moreover, Rooney Mara fails to convince as the younger Roseanne, although it hardly helps that she has next to no chemistry with Jack Reynor, whose morally driven flyboy is as much a cipher as Theo James's lust-tormented cleric and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor's cold-hearted freedom fighter.

On the technical side, production designer Derek Wallace neatly contrasts the spartan ward with the cosily cluttered cottage, while cinematographer Mikhail Krichman brings the textural depth and eye for detail that have made the works of Andrei Zvyagintsev so visually rich. But, as a piece of storytelling, this is a muddle that does a vast disservice to its source.

Some of the biggest names in Iranian cinema have tackled feminist topics, including Abbas Kiarostami, Bahram Beyzai, Jafar Panahi, Asghar Farhadi, Mohammad Rasoulof and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, whose daughters Samira and Hana and wife Marzieh Meshkini stand alongside Tahmineh Milani and Maryam Keshavarz as being the country's most important home-based women directors. Among the emerging talents to explore gender politics is Behnam Behzadi, whose third feature, Inversion, draws on the central King Lear plotline that also inspired Leo McCarey's Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) and Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story (1953). Neither We Only Live Twice (2008) nor The Rule of Accident (2013) was deemed worth of a UK release. But this considered study of family ties and gender priorities suggests that Behzadi is a shrewd observer of the contemporary scene.

As smog shrouds Tehran, thirtysomething Sahar Dowlatshahi frets that ageing mother Shirin Yazdanbakhsh is trying to do too much when she needs rest to control her pulmonary condition. Older brother Ali Mosaffa cautions Dowlatshahi about keeping Yazdanbakhsh indoors, as he borrows her car because he has been forced to sell his own to meet some debts. Dowlatshahi has taken on her late father's clothing business and is pleased to provide work for so many women who would otherwise struggle to make ends meet. But her mind has been distracted of late by the return of Ali Reza Aghakhani, a construction engineer who went to live abroad just as she had hopes that their romance might catch light.

When they go to dinner, however, Dowlatshahi gets a phone call that Yazdanbakhsh has been hospitalised with respiratory problems and doctor Payam Yazdani informs Dowlatshahi, Mosaffa and their sister Roya Javidnia that their mother has to leave the capital for the cleaner air of the rural north or she will die. Javidnia and husband Toufan Mehrdadian own a villa in the region and suggest to Mosaffa that Dowlatshahi should move there to take care of Yazdanbakhsh, as she doesn't have any family commitments in Tehran. But Dowlatshahi is in the middle of renovating her workshop and is dismayed by the news when niece Setareh Hosseini calls to let her know what has been decided.

A dutiful daughter, who accepts that she doesn't have children who need good schools, Dowlatshahi agrees to relocate. But she reassures assistant Setareh Pesyani that she will run the factory from afar and knows she can rely on her to manage day-to-day affairs in her absence. However, Mosaffa is up to his eyes in debt because a consignment from abroad has failed to arrive and he cuts a deal with creditor Ebad Karimi to let him to convert the workshop into an office and occupy it rent free until they are square. Javidnia is uncomfortable with the situation, but knows Mosaffa has a short fuse (his wife has gone to stay with her parents after he threw a glass at her during an argument). Moreover, she realises this development will prevent Dowlatshahi from dragging her feet about moving.

She finds out about the transaction when Pesyani calls her at the hospital and returns to find her staff in a state of shock because Mosaffa had punched one of the workmen Aghakhani had sent over to make good the botched demolition of an interior wall. Cursing under her breath at her brother's grasping chauvinist duplicity, Dowlatshahi goes to his clothes shop to confront him. She chides him for treating her like a child and seeking to swindle her out of her share of the inheritance. But he berates her for disrespecting him in front of customers and accuses her of selfishly seeking to live her own life rather than care for their mother. When Dowlatshahi insists that she should have been consulted, Mosaffa goes to strike her and has to be restrained by one of his employees. He orders her to leave the shop and Dowlatshahi feels further aggrieved when Javidnia sends Hosseini round to the apartment to discern her intentions.

Even though Mosaffa returns her car, Dowlatshahi's mood scarcely improves the following day when she gets back from the market to find Pesyani locked out of the workshop. Then, when she calls on Aghakhani, she gets to meet Yazdan Akhoondi, the young son who has just started living with his dad after his mother remarried and she realises why Aghakhani had been so keen to renew their acquaintance. Spoiling for a fight, Dowlatshahi storms into Mosaffa's shop and demands the keys to recover her sewing machines and materials. He snaps at her for putting her own considerations first and takes delight in informing her that he has agreed with Javidnia to sell the family apartment, as their shares give them the casting vote. She denounces him in front of his staff for being a cheapskate and vows that she will never let him decide her fate again.

Ignoring calls from Aghakhani, Dowlatshahi goes searching for alternative premises with Pesyani and is pleased to find somewhere suitable. She takes her car in for repair when Hosseini calls to warn her to stay away from the hospital, as everyone is trying to coerce Yazdanbakhsh into heading north the moment she is discharged. As she waits at the garage, Dowlatshahi picks up a call from Aghakhani and meets to explain how she felt trapped by his tactics and wants nothing more to do with him. Indeed, she is fed up with obeying orders. So, when Yazdanbakhsh suspects a conspiracy is simmering and persuades Hosseini to help her discharge herself and turns up at the apartment, Dowlatshahi reassures her mother that she would rather move north and know she was okay than stay in Tehran and worry she was putting herself at risk. Waiting in the main room, her relatives are shamed into silence, as Dowlatshahi announces that they are going to leave.

She takes a call from Aghakhani and promises him that she is doing the right thing of her own accord. As they drive through the evening rush hour, she asks him to put on some music. Wanting something more cheerful than the sombre cello solo playing on the radio, she requests a channel change and they burst out laughing when the next station is playing exactly the same sorrowful piece.

Despite leaving the audience to wonder whether Dowlatshahi has forgiven Aghakhani for his ungallant courtship, Behzadi makes it clear that she emerges from her ordeal as a heroine rather than a victim. She might have been forced into making a sacrifice and may have temporarily lost her father's old workplace, but she has saved her business and shown faith in Pesyani and her staff. Moreover, she has done the right thing by her mother and given a good example to her doting niece, while also embarrassing her self-centred siblings and taught a potential suitor not to take her for granted.

Yet, this doesn't entirely feel like a victory, as Behzadi emphasises the second-class status that most Iranian women have to endure, even when they are the glue holding their families together. Shooting the majority of scenes indoors or inside vehicles, Behzadi and production designer Babak Karimi Tari reinforce the confined nature of existence that is made all the more stifling by the choking cloud of smog that makes it increasingly difficult to draw breath in Tehran. The persistent dring of mobile phones and electronic devices in Amirhossein Ghassemi's sound mix renders the atmosphere all the more oppressive, as do the traffic jams captured by Bahram Badakhshani's inquiring camera.

The performances are also admirably authentic, although Mosaffa is given little to work with as a caricatured bully. His slanging matches with his sister provide the dramatic fireworks but much of the action is wryly restrained, as the exceptional Dowlatshahi enacts her plan of revenge on her siblings and the handsome, but flawed Aghakhani. Her exchanges with Hosseini are also intriguing, as it is clear the teenager feels closer to her aunt than her parents, despite witnessing what happens when a mother becomes a nuisance rather than a treasure. This sense that life will always be complicated (especially for women whose emancipation is often merely illusory) makes the cautious optimism of the conclusion feel so well judged, while is also leaves the viewer hoping that Behzadi will return to Dowlatshahi and her clan some time after their mother dies. Every now and then, a film arrives that seems bent on dividing audiences. Long anticipated to be a star director of the future, Alex Taylor deserves great credit for sticking to his guns in making his debut feature, Spaceship, on his own terms. Backed by Creative England, the BFI and the BBC, and filmed around Aldershot, Farnborough and Guildford, this is easily the trippiest teenpic ever made in this country. Production designer Francesca Massariol, cinematographer Liam Iandoli and editor Carmela Iandoli all merit an honourable mention. But in seeking to transfer the DIY comic anarchy of Harmony Korine and Gregg Araki to a barrack town on the edge of the commuter belt, Taylor places far too much faith in an untested cast, whose inability to improvise with pace and pithiness leaves this looking like a day-glo vanity project, albeit one whose cult cachet is probably sufficient to earn Taylor a second outing with a good deal more producorial supervision.

After various members of her circle speculate about life on other planets, cybergoth Alexa Davies reveals in voiceover that she lost her mother to a swimming pool accident when she was young and often dreams of being chased through the woods by vampire. Several students attending her college claim to have been abducted by aliens. But, when they reappeared after a couple of days giving untallying accounts of their experiences, the police merely announced that they had been playing a prank and had hidden out in an old wartime bunker.

Davies lives with her Finnish archaeologist father, Antti Reini, who keeps hoping to stumble across an important site in the spots used by the Army for target practice. He is always busy and has little time for Davies when he finds her lounging in a basket chair and thinking about her mother. Meanwhile, blue-haired, nose-pierced classmate Tallulah Haddon sucks blood from the wrist of classmate Lara Peake, while recalling Harry Jarvis, who claimed to be a vampire and kept trying to give the girls love bites. However, when he suddenly disappeared, it transpired he was from Milton Keynes and not exotic in the slightest.

One afternoon, Reini gets called to the school because Davies is on the roof wearing a black cape. He tells the school counsellor that she merely wants to fly and that he has no right to clip her wings. They have pizza for supper and shout out words from the language tape Reini is using. He finds a spot in the woods and begins to dig. But his assistant, Kristof Genega, suggests that they are more likely to find something extraterrestrial than historical. When it rains, they sit in their hut and Reini remembers his days as a roadie for a rock band and wonders whether they could one day go across the Sahara on a motorbike.

While out ice-skating with Peake and Haddon, Davies runs into ex-boyfriend, Lucian Charles Collier, who is amused by the squaddies using a children's playground to do macho physical tests. He rides his motorbike into an abandoned house where Davies is hanging out. Collier says he needs to go on holiday and wants Davies to come with him. But he makes do with following her to a railway carriage left on a piece of branch line and a crashed helicopter in the woods. She tells him that her grandmother believed the fairies would take over the world, but she has seen no evidence of their coming, apart from some tiny footprints in a puddle.

Bored with the holiday in the woods, Davies goes to a party with her pals, where Jack Winthrop (a lad with dyed blonde hair who was seen earlier chasing a stick while being taken for a walk on a lead by Haddon) tells everyone about his new nipple piercing. Peake becomes obsessed with a black hole on the wall and wonders what would happen if she jumped into it, while Collier shows up on his bike to see Davies bathed in ethereal light that seems to suggest she is going to be the next pupil to be snatched by aliens. As dawn breaks and the stragglers listen to a girl singing while strumming along to an electric guitar, Collier wakes on the ground beside his bike and is puzzled that there is no sign of Davies.

Haddon meets up with Winthrop and they bark at each other before she knights him with an imaginary sword for being a good slave. Peake thinks this is weird and Haddon is talking about seeing shamen trancing to pass into other worlds when Collier announces that Davies has been sucked up and away and that he has his horizons expanded as a consequence. As Peake goes to sleep with a plaster unicorn head on her pillow and a lad describes what appears to be his alien experience of emerging into a bright light with an unsurpassed sense of potential, Reini becomes increasingly worried that Davies is not answering her phone. As he goes looking for her in his car, Collier, Peake and Haddon climb in through her bedroom and window and rifle through her stuff for clues. They find a photograph of her mother hugging a synthesiser and Collier notices how much Peake looks like Davies's mum.

While they read in the deceased woman's journal about living underwater, we cut away to Jarvis playing basketball with Mackenzie Morrison and recalling the games teacher's despair at the school's lack of sporting prowess. He hopes being fitter can enable the younger generation to make the world a better place. They are interrupted by Reini, who grabs Collier by the lapels and demands to know what has happened to his daughter. Standing in the empty swimming pool, Collier describes how Davies vaporised in a pool of bright light before collapsing into an epileptic fit that sees him imagining himself prancing, pirouetting and leaping in slow-motion while fixing the gaze of the camera.

While black squaddie tells his training buddy about being on active service on Christmas Day, Peake persuades Reini to let her help him find Davies, while Haddon wakes Collier with a bottle of beer and he recalls how he saw rainbows and an army of unicorns on the night Davies disappeared. He claims he saw his life flash before his eyes and he swears he is going to become a famous shoe designer. She leaves him to go drinking with Winthrop and some punkish friends and they debate whether Davies has gone up into the sky or down into the ocean. While they chatter, Reini and Peake go to the ice rink and she tells him about a game she had been playing in which she tried to imagine what the world would be like in total isolation. They enter an ancient burial site and Reini describes the power it contains. Peake offers him her wrist to bite and he says he can see `her' in Peake's eyes (but it's left open whether he means Davies or her mother).

As Peake pleads with her missing friend to come back for her, Davies wakes in an army dormitory and bearded squaddie Steven Elder asks how she got here. Accepting the theory that she might have been abducted by aliens, he tells her that he is seeking a cave where a mysterious boy is dancing at a disco until he has a vision that will determine his future direction. He recites a poem that repeats the words `disco' and `dancing' before ending with the line, `I lost my jumper.' Davies says it's beautiful and watches Elder walk away. Meanwhile, Reini has found Haddon at the barracks and she recounts a dream she used to have about a transparent baby that crawled into her room. Reini hurts her feelings when he tells Haddon she is nothing like his daughter.

Returning home, Reini cleans out the swimming pool. But, as he goes to drop his wife's synthesiser into the river, Jarvis asks if he can have it. He reveals that he created a new breed of three-hearted flying humans while he was away and urges Reini to look inside himself to see if he is one of them. They are better than superheroes. While he wanders towards a fairground, Peake and Haddon deck themselves in luminous make-up and take pills while discussing dreamlands, nuclear rainbows and the possibility that space is a giant mirror reflecting Earth back on itself. At the fair (whose whirling lights resemble those that Collier saw when Davies vanished), Reini finds himself in a heavy metal dance hall. We hear in detached voiceover how zombies are always thinking about their past lives and a girl with electro-shock tear make-up (who may or may not be a revenant) clings on to Reini, who sinks into her embrace.

Inside the hall, he finds Peake having a bad trip and makes her throw up before taking her home. Haddon dances with Winthrop in a black PVC monster suit before seeming to go off into her own reverie that requires her prince to wake her with a kiss. Back home, Reini tells Peake about a cartoon series he enjoyed as a kid. He goes to fetch a bandage for her wrist, but she sees lights flashing outside and rushes out to see what is going on. Reini follows and plunges into the pool to rescue Davies, who informs him she has been to Ibiza. As the film ends with Gerega making a major (but unseen) discovery in the woods, Elder dancing in the disco and father and daughter having fun ice skating, Haddon comes round and looks up from her pillow to declare that everything will be okay because they are at the centre of everything that is awesome.

Such a sentiment aptly sums up the more drivelish aspects of this self-indulgent flight of fancy, which revisits some of the themes explored in the 2012 short of the same name. In that spaced oddity, Chloe Warburton plays a misfit who dresses in a black PVC alien costume because she suspects she might not be of this earth and friend Kristof Garega opines that abductions often take place in supermarket pasta aisles because most extraterrestrials are Italian because the Roman Empire didn't fall, but was swept up whole into space. But Alex Taylor didn't make that or this gleefully incoherent feature version for grumpy critics just shy of their 56th birthday. So, besides noting that Gaspar Noé does this kind of head trip better than anyone and that less is more when it comes to esoteric songtracks, they should have the humility to hold up their hands and admit that they are not best placed to offer an informed appreciation.

Amidst the sensory onslaught, passing credit should be paid to costumier Molly Emma Rowe and make-up and hair designer Siobhan Harper-Ryan and to Tallulah Rose Haddon for being such a compelling presence. But Taylor impressed more with his acclaimed shorts Kids Might Fly (2009) and Release the Flying Monkeys (2010), which respectively centred on a teenage girl who is taken into care and decides against committing suicide after hearing the story of the Pig of Happiness and a pair of teenage Albanian exorcists who release a death metal-loving tortoise from the curse of its owner's green wig.

Such was the impact of Asif Kapadia's Senna (2010) that all subsequent documentaries about Formula 1 racing have found themselves in its slipstream. So, even though Roger Donaldson has handled a high-speed storyline before in profiling motorcylist Burt Munro in The World's Fastest Indian (2006) and has been given unique access to Bruce McLarens family and archive, McLaren finds itself among the also rans with Hannes M. Schalle's Lauda: The Untold Story (2014) and Seán Ó Cualáin's Crash and Burn (2016).

Born in Remuera in Auckland in 1937, Bruce McLaren was fascinated by the cars at his father Les's garage and childhood pals Phil Kerr (future director of McLaren Racing between 1968-75) and Colin Beanland (general manager of McLaren Engines between 1969-72) recall his obsession and how much Les taught them all. Pop McLaren had been a notable racing driver himself and feared that his son would not be able to follow in his footsteps when Bruce was hospitalised with Perthes Disease in 1948. Mother Ruth and Seddon Tech classmate Jim Anderton recall how he was forced to lie on a frame with weights on his legs to cure a problem with his hip. But, even though he always limped because one leg was shorter than the other, Bruce refused to give up on his racing dreams.

He crossed the country to enter events and Kerr and Beanland remember him competing in the New Zealand Grand Prix against drivers like Jim Clark, Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss, whom racing historian Michael Clark considers the Spitfire pilots of the sport. As Brabham kept his car at Pop's garage, he became a mentor and, after Bruce won six races in his Cooper-Climax, he was presented with a scholarship to train in Britain in 1958, He and Beanland spent the next seven years at the Cooper factory in Surbiton and they had to build his first car from scratch. But he quickly made an impact on the Fomula 2 scene and sister Jan recalls the excited letters and tapes that he used to send home.

Journalist Eoin Young recalls McLaren being entered in a combined F1/F2 race at the notorious Nürburgring in 1958 and astonishing everyone by winning the F2 competition and finishing fifth overall. Emerson Fittipaldi confirms the `the Green Hell' was a testing circuit and everyone suspected the sport had a new star at the tender age of 20. Indeed, the following seasons, McLaren began to pick up points and won his first Grand Prix at the Sebring Raceway in Florida in helping Brabham pip Moss to the world title. Along with racing boss John Cooper, they developed a faster car and McLaren finished second to Brabham in only his second full season.

Fellow Kiwi Chris Amon was among those to be inspired by him and the newsreel cameras followed him when during the Auckland Grand Prix. He is seen learning to water ski by rival Arnold Glass and wife Patty remembers him being a very dashing celebrity at the time she was Miss Caroline Bay. They only had a few dates before becoming engaged because he was always away and she smiles at the idea they fell in love by post.

Yet, as mechanic Wally Willmott suggests, for all his success on the track, McLaren was really an engineer at heart and was forever making sketches and models. When Brabham left Cooper in 1961 to design his own car, he felt a pang of envy. But he continued to have success on the circuit and saw off the challenge of Phil Hill in a titanic Monte Carlo Grand Prix in 1962, which culminated in him receiving his trophy from Princess Grace. However, as Jackie Stewart laments, this was a dangerous sport and several close friends perished due to mechanic failure or human error. Patty implies that losses hit hard because the drivers spent so much time socialising while they travelled the world. But, as McLaren stated in his autobiography, From the Cockpit, drivers had to forget tragedies as soon as they happened in order to keep competing.

Despite narrowly surviving his own smash at the Nürburgring, McLaren was determined to continue and future driver/constructor Dan Gurney notes that he began devoting more of his time to learning from the Cooper technical staff and the combination of his curiosity, intelligence and ability to think big enabled him to plan for the future. Artist Michael Turner designed the logo for a car of McLaren's own design, which bore the Cooper name at the 1964 New Zealand Grand Prix. Twenty-six year-old American team-mate Timmy Mayer drove the second string, as McLaren triumphed. But he was killed at Longford in Tasmania in the next race and McLaren returned to London convinced that he had to put the lessons into practice.

Driver Howden Ganley was the first to be recruited, as McLarens racing company was launched in the corner of a garage that repaired earth-moving equipment. He test drove for Ford and Firestone to raise funds and engineer Gary Knutson admits it was initially a seat-of-the-pants operation. But the team was young and enthusiastic and McLaren was just as ready to make sacrifices and take chances. Initially, he modified an American sports car and won a race in Canada before Teddy Mayer (Timmy's lawyer brother) joined up to put the company on a firmer business footing. They moved into a new facility at Feltham and colleagues smile on recalling the catchphrase `Whoosh! Bonk!' that McLaren uttered while designing the M1 prototype (which he sketched in chalk on the workshop floor).

Such was the success of this car in the States that it featured in the Elvis Presley picture, Spinout (1966). But McLaren had his sights set on Formula 1 and recruited Concorde designer Robin Herd to work on the new car. Willmott and Beanland admit it was gruelling work perfecting the new design, but future team manager Alastair Caldwell recalls the joy McLaren felt at being his own boss and changing the nature of his sport, while Herd recalls a practical joke involving a paint tin being fired through his office door using a homemade bazooka. But the 1966 F1 season was a disaster because the Ford engine produced more noise than propulsion.

Now the proud father of Amanda, McLaren needed to turn things round quickly. But he was also suffering from the after-effects of Perthes and needed to consult a doctor about hip surgery. So, he decided to enter the 24-hour race at Le Mans to give the team a boost, driving a Ford-sponsored variation of the GT40. Mario Andretti was test driving with him at the time and recalls his artistry behind the wheel. Chris Amon was chosen as his co-driver and McLaren defied Henry Ford II's instruction for this three vehicles to dead heat in first place and took the chequered flag alone.

He switched focus to the Canadian-American Challenge Cup and Mariyn Fox Halder recalls the family mood around the Can-Am circus. Andretti and Lothar Motshchenbacher praise the McLaren car that was entered for this series. But, while McLaren himself wanted to quit racing to focus on design, he needed to keep winning prize money to keep the operation afloat. Designers Gordon Coppuck and Bruce Harré suggest the F1 failure drained the coffers and sponsors wanted McLaren in the hot seat. He was disappointed when Amon joined Ferrari, but he replaced him with fellow Kiwi Denny Hulme for the 1967 season.

Astonishingly, McLaren made up an entire lap on the field to win at Mosport and went on to lift the Can-Am title as Hulme took the F1 crown for Brabham. Thus, when McLaren made the move back into FI, Hulme was more than happy to be his driver. At Spa in Belgium, however, Hulme was forced to retire and McLaren became only the second driver to win a Grand Prix in a car with his own name on the nose. But he thought he had finished second, as he was unaware that Jackie Stewart had run out of fuel. It was a proud moment and it has not been matched since.

According to Cary Taylor and Jim Stone, McLaren and Hulme spent their lives shutting across the Atlantic to race in Can-Am and F1. For the 1969 season, they added high wings to the Can-Am car to improve the down force and won all 11 races in their distinctive yellow cars, with McLaren taking six of them. He was also working on a street car and used to delight in taking the bright red trial model for spins around London. Now settled in a lovely big house, he even decided to take a tilt at the Indianapolis 500 after completing his 100th Grand Prix at the age of 32. However, Hulme's car caught fire and he sustained serious burns to his hands. As a consequence, he couldn't test the Can-Am car at Goodwood on 2 June 1970 and McLaren stepped in, despite being jet-lagged from the flight from the US.

A series of accidents in F1 had prompted the banning of high wings and McLaren was experimenting with a new lower fin when he ignored the Goodwood rule of breaking for lunch at noon to do one more lap. As he approached a marshal's hut that had long been due for demolition, the rear of the car lifted and McLaren lost control. The sudden silence prompted Caldwell and Stone to jump into a car and the former recalls McLaren's body being broken like a rag doll. Kerr went to tell Patty and phoned Auckland, where mother Ruth had had a premonition earlier in the day that something was going to go wrong.

But the workforce was imbued with McLaren's spirit and everyone turned up for work the next day to begin building a replacement car for the start of the Can-Am season at Mosport. Hulme defied the doctors to finish third, while Gurney stepped in and won. As Kerr reveals, the team went on to do the only double double of F1 (Fittipaldi and James Hunt) and Indycar (Johnny Rutherford x2) and the reputation of the factory was established and it now stands behind only Ferrari as the longest-running team in F1.

A closing flash montage of McLaren car designs is followed by acknowledgements of the passing of Patty, Kerr and Amon during the making of the film, which pays rich and fulsome tribute to a remarkable character and an indisputable sporting legend. Adhering to the Kapadia template, Donaldson and editors Tim Woodhouse and James Brown (who also co-scripted with Matthew Metcalfe) make solid use of the archive material, which is bolstered periodically by tasteful reconstructions and counterpointed throughout by a suitably stirring David Long score. But, for once, it's the talking head contributions that leave the deepest impression, as each contributor speaks with a quiet pride and an inextinguishable affection that makes this as moving as it is informative.

Several works of activist poetry have sought to expose the iniquities of factory life by combining an artistic vision with a social conscience. Now, such hard-hitting studies as Michael Glawogger's Workingman's Death (2005), Jennifer Baichwal's Manufactured Landscapes (2006) and Zhao Liang's Behemoth (2016) are joined by Machines, which was produced as a California Institute of the Arts assignment by first-time documentarist Rahul Jain. Serving as his own sound recordist (with Susmit Nath) and editor (along with Yael Bitton and Robert Fenz), while also aiding Rodrigo Trejo Villanueva with the remarkable imagery, Jain opts not to use a score or commentary to counterpoint the dehumanising routines he witnessed at a textile plant outside the city of Surat in the western Indian state of Gujarat. But, in giving a voice to the workers, Jain not only condemns the conditions they endure for just $3 per 12-hour shift, but he also questions the good that films like this can do when consumers worldwide persist in setting greater store by low prices than fair pay and the dignity of labour.

Opening with a static image of a man using a long metal rod to send sparks flying from a furnace, the film takes a bravura tour of the factory to show the size of the building, the variety of tasks that are implemented there and the cacophonous noise made by the machinery. The camera glides, pirouettes and swishes to take in as much as possible in a single shot before it follows a youth pulling a pot of dye and a man carrying a sack on his head. A storm cracks outside and water cascades through the roof on to the concrete floor, but everyone keeps performing tasks that aren't always explained, but which require either muscle or concentration.

`God gave us hands, so we have to work,' one man tells Jain, as he explains the different systems that operate around the factory and how each task requires attributes that make everyone part of a team. He speaks with a mixture of pride and pragmatism, as he describes how he needs to use brain and brawn while mixing and transporting tubs of chemicals. We see dyes being blended and looms clanking as they weave the cloth that later billows out of printers that stamp colours and patterns on to the fabric. It looks spectacular, but the sense of graft and grind is inescapable, as workers trudge through puddles on the floor, hose down templates, clean equipment or watch reams of cloth take on an almost liquidic form as they pass through the machinery. A man with a greying beard laments that he barely earns enough to feed his family, let alone think about saving for a rainy day. He is one of many who have taken out loans to move to the area to find work and he says that poverty drives many away from their loved ones. The physical strain of working long shifts is immense, but he often takes an hour off in the evening and begins a second shift straight away because he cannot afford to be idle, even if his body needs the recovery time. Yet, even though he has travelled 1600km to work in the factory (with the train journey lasting 36 hours, during which time he has to stand with no food or water, he insists that nobody is exploiting him, as he comes here of his own free will.

A delivery is unloaded in silence by a group of men and boys. Some work much harder than others, as they carry and stack bundles, but no one seems to complain. The bearded man shows how to make chewing tobacco last longer, while a young boy sits cross-legged and opines that it is better to work long hours at an early age, as he will be able to learn things that adults find difficult to understand. He reaches the gates each morning wishing he could turn around and go home, but he knows his job is precious and that the sacrifices he makes now will stand him in good stead in the future.

While some take lunch or have a crafty smoke, the rest plod on. Dye is poured from jugs into screen printing machines, while giant washing-machines are filled and emptied in rapid rotation. A boy wearing gauntlet-sized rubber gloves struggles to stay awake, as cloth rushes past him on rollers and he keeps looking into the lens before unleashing the next yawn. As a man sings a song about death, Jain finds workers catnapping on bundles of cloth around the factory. They look dead to the world and lie with limbs akimbo like corpses on a battlefield. But their labours enable the bosses to cut deals with Arabic-speaking customers looking to get good value for their dollars. Outside the factory wall, young kids scavenge through the sticky rubbish tipped on to the ground with no concern for the environment. A bearded man states that the workers would be much better off if they united to form a union. But they come from across the subcontinent and are too intent on keeping their heads down and being paid that they fail to realise they could reduce their days by a third and get the same money if they showed some solidarity. However, he also reveals that anyone caught trying to organise the workforce invariably disappears and he suggests that they have often been bumped off by the management.

Following a long shot of the gleaming white factory gently billowing smoke from its chimneys, we return to the hellish reality of the interior. Machines whirr and clank and people push laden trolleys or unwind lengths of cloth from giant bobbins. As bundles thud into a cart from above, a chap claiming to be the union rep says that few people can afford to fight for the cause because they return to their home regions if they are fired and don't have the wherewithal to make a claim against the company. Two lads concur that it is almost impossible to mount a concerted campaign, as not everyone is willing to lose a day's pay in order to strike and put pressure on the management.

Jain meets the owner of the factory, who insists that things have changed dramatically since he opened the premises 12 years ago. Then, workers were grateful for the pay they received and earned every rupee. Now, he avers, half of them fritter their wages on alcohol and tobacco and don't give a damn about their families back home. He blames government legislation that forced him to increase salaries, as it made his employees feel safe and comfortable and they have since slacked off because they don't work on empty stomachs. Deeply resenting what he considers disrespect, he protests that he is the one being ripped off.

The majority of the jobs are repetitive. While some push buttons, others have more technical tasks that require them to ensure the even spread of dye over the rollers feeding through the cotton lengths or to keep the material straight and smooth as it goes through the mechanism. But Jain cuts abruptly away from the din to the quiet of the rooftop, where some of the workers are modelling sari designs and they throw the diaphanous garments into the air and they float down in stylised slow-motion to contrast with the smog that hangs heavily over the environs, which are shown in a drone shot accompanied by the slowed-down wail of a shift siren.

Jain comes to the factory gates and interviews some of the workers. One is a farmer who has been forced to seek alternative employment because of a drought. He informs Jain that lots of people come to conduct surveys and inquiries, but they always leave without doing anything to improve the situation. When he remains silent, the man asks if he has any answers, they will gladly follow his counsel. But they are getting tired of ministers speechifying and changing nothing and he hopes that Jain can genuinely make a difference. As he scours the crowd gathered around him, Jain spots someone filming him with his phone. One of the workers takes solace in the fact that the rich can't take their wealth with them when they die and the film ends where it began, in the boiler-room among the belching flames and flickering cinders that are clearly designed to suggest we are leaving a hell on earth.

Little needs to be said at the conclusion of this artfully made, but acutely aware feature. By leaving his interviewees unnamed, Jain reinforces their anonymity in the factory's grand unregulated scheme. However, he clearly has more sympathy with them than he does for the boss, whose dismissive attitude to the morality of his staff is shockingly callous and condescending. Nothing can be proved about the accusations made about the termination of union officials, but Jain evidently feels more inclined to believe the testimony of the downtrodden than the elite. Then, of course, there is the evidence of his own eyes, as he and Villanueva venture into all corners of a dank, stygian facility that is photographed with a mix of Constructivist awe and the humanist dismay that comes through particularly strongly during the final encounter when Jain is forced to recognise the futility of his artistry and good intentions.

At the time British sisters Georgia and Sophia Scott made Lost in Lebanon, 13 million Syrians had been displaced by the six years of civil war that had decimated their country. Some 1.5 million of these victims had made their way across the border into Lebanon. But, presiding over a demographically diverse population of 4.4 million, the Beirut government decided to freeze registration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2015 and introduced a series of measures that made it next to impossible for fugitives to renew their residency permits. Few Syrian were willing to return home. So, when the Scotts arrived at the Al Ihsan camp in the northern Akkar district that is just 5km from the frontier, many were ready to risk the prospect of deportation by living undocumented, while others were contemplating the drastic step of entrusting their fate to people traffickers.

In order to explore the situation, the Scotts made contact with four Syrian exiles: Sheikh Abdo, a 39 year-old community leader who misses his fruit garden in al-Qusayr and would like a bottle of local water; 19 year-old high-school student Nemr, who finds it baffling that he can see his homeland from the hills above the border, but knows it's much further away in reality; 26 year-old artist Mwafak, who is struggling to reconcile past memories with an uncertain future; and Reem, a 26 year-old architect, who still recalls the excitement of demonstrating against the Assad regime, but who has been forced to give up her chosen profession and set up a charity for her fellow refugees.

Having run a medical dispensary for the sick and wounded during the early part of the Syrian Revolution, Sheikh Abdo was forced to flee after al-Qusayr was subjected to heavy bombardment in June 2013 and he became a key figure in setting up Al Ishan and is now responsible for 70 families, including his own pregnant wife, Samar, and their young daughter, Heba. He is particularly proud of the school he set up with German NGO worker Fritz Bokern and they cater for 400 children whose education had been severely disrupted by the conflict.

Fritz runs the Relief and Reconciliation for Syria peace camp and he is amazed by the amount of optimism and respect for others he finds among the refugees. Nemr volunteers at the centre and helps the smallest children with their lessons, Having fled Damascus to avoid being conscripted by the regime or the Free Syrian Army, he believes it is better to hold a book than a weapon and Sheikh Abdo agrees that illiteracy would do more damage to Syria than intolerance. Some 60km away in Beirut, Mwafak works on his sculptures and channels the fury he feels about the war into his art. He is one of 600,000 Syrians who have not registered with UNHCR and, while he swears that he wouldn't be able to kill anyone, he can also joke that he wouldn't suit a helmet with his long hair and beard. He teaches art in the al-Jarahia camp in the Bekaa Valley, some 15km from the Syrian border, and hopes to preserve their sense of identity and they respond with a rap about their desire to play football and watch Tom and Jerry without being worried about bullets and bombs.

At the nearby Shatila camp, which was set up for Palestinian refugees in 1948 and was the scene of a notorious 1982 massacre, Reem tries to help the 20,000 Syrians who have doubled the population of the already crowded sanctuary. She is particularly concerned about the traumatised children, who witnessed atrocities at home and now face abuse and exploitation in the camp. But the Syrians are viewed with suspicion and Sheikh Abdo fears that many Lebanese view his compatriots as ISIS warriors. The implementation of the new regulations in January 2015 leaves Sheikh Abdo feeling like a burden on his hosts and he admits to fearing arrest at each checkpoint when he seeks medical help for his neighbours. Mwafak is also nervous, as his passport expires in five months and he has yet to register with the UN. However, Nemr's visa has already run out, while Reem is being knocked back in her effort to get travel papers to attend training programmes abroad. But, with only 5000 successful applicants from among the one million registered Syrians, Nemr and Mwafak are becoming increasingly desperate, with the former leaving Al Ishan after Sheikh Abdo is arrested.

Reem gets a visit from her parents and she tries to persuade them to stay for their own safety. But they insist on returning and she is worried they will be targeted because she is in exile with her brothers. The Scotts follow Mwafak to the registration centre and let their camera capture the faces of innocent children caught up in a madness that seems set to define their lives. He scoffs at the vapidity of the questions on the application form, but he is clearly unnerved by the rapid narrowing of his options. Meanwhile, Nemr awaits news of his 16 year-old brother, who is being smuggled via Lebanon to Turkey. He is upset his mother was detained at the border and simply wants a hug.

After 16 days in a cramped cell, Sheikh Abdo is released without charge. He reveals that his guards had taunted him that he was going to be sent back to certain death in Syria and concedes that the strain was enormous. Now, he is heading to Beirut to see if he can renew his papers. All three men are rejected, while Reem is denied a travel permit, even though she has been offered a chance to study in Sweden. She still finds time to smile about her parents having tomato plants confiscated at a checkpoint back in Syria, but all of the Scott quartet are facing uncertainty, as they have become virtual prisoners inside their camps.

Fritz is dismayed by the ignorance and indifference of the West to what is going on in Syria and the refugee camps. But, with police raids increasing in Akkar, Nemr no longer feels safe and he decides to move on. A caption reveals that only 3.6% of Syrians have been resettled in Lebanon and its neighbours by the end of 2015 and Mwafak has chosen to escape by boat, even though an actor friend drowned in transit. Over a slow-motion shot of birds taking wing, Reem laments that so many talented people are deserting a country that will need them when the time to rebuild comes. She tries to put a brave face on it, but even she is beginning to lose hope.

Sheikh Abdo is arrested repeatedly over the next few months and he is forced to abandon plans to improve facilities at the camp. He is also frustrated that his new son is denied registration documents and a caption explains that 72% of all Syrian children born in Lebanon are uncertified and risk becoming stateless in the future. Another states that 600,000 Syrians had lost the right to remain in the country by the end of 2016 and, as the camera retreats from the light at the end of a tunnel, the Scotts challenge the audience to do something about fellow human beings trapped in a nightmare.

It's more than a little disconcerting that the closing captions make no mention of the fates of Nemr, Mwafak, Reem and Sheikh Abdo and his family. But not knowing is part of the daily experience of refugees everywhere and the Scott sisters make their point with a quiet, but steely power that reflects the dignity and determination of their subjects. Having demonstrated their intrepidity in postwar Bosnia during the making of In the Shadow of War (2014), the siblings play down the risks they personally faced to focus on decent people whose stories would never make the headlines. Such film-making is vital and it's a crying shame (not to say a disgrace) that the UK doesn't have a dedicated documentary channel to enable important statements like this one to reach the biggest possible viewership.

In truth, this would probably be better suited to the small screen, as the scale of the enterprise is somewhat intimate. Understandably, access to the foursome appears to have been limited and they might have been more forthcoming about their experiences had they been asked to keep video diaries rather than speak directly to the Scotts. The use of captions to fill in the many gaps in the individual stories and the fast-changing situation on the ground also saps the sense of immediacy that a voiceover might have preserved. But these are quibbles with a wake-up call to the West that should shame those European leaders who promised sanctuary to helpless Syrian children and failed to keep their word.

Cinematographer-turned-director Nicholas de Pencier also has a problem marshalling his potent material in Black Code, a study of the use and abuse of the Internet that is based on a book by Ronald J. Deibert, the director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto that explores the impact of social media, malware and surveillance on human rights. Tapping into an issue that could not be more topical - thanks to President Trump and his relationships with the FBI, the CIA and Russia - De Pencier strives to cover as many bases as possible. But his restless globetrotting hampers his efforts to compile a concerted argument and, consequently, this is nowhere near as focused or effective as Werner Herzog's online odyssey, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World.

Keeping tabs on both online activists, ordinary citizens and state snoops, the `cyber stewards' at Citizen Lab strive to expose espionage, intimidation and censorship in order to ensure fear-free freedom of speech across the World Wide Web. When not sharing ideas with Edward Snowden, Deibert is sending `Internet sleuths' to trouble spots in every corner of the planet. Following the murder of Pakistani activist Sabeen Mahmud in 2015, for example, Citizen Lab has been monitoring the country's haphazard censorship policies and highlighting the extent of online violence against women. Moreover, as De Pencier discovers, the unit also supports the Dalai Lama's resistance to the Chinese takeover of Tibet and the residents of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro who use social media to broadcast the brutality of the city police force, as well as opposing the persecution of citizen journalists in Syria.

Deibert's team also crack down on spy rings like GhostNet, whose fiendish network was amusingly busted by a simple Google search. But, while he capably chronicle this battle to protect cyberspace, De Pencier has little far too little to say about its dangers and potential ramifications. The notion that online posts can lead to arrest, torture, blackmail and murder is deeply disturbing. Yet this is hardly breaking news and De Pencier - who served as a producer on partner Jennifer Baichwal's excellent observational documentaries, Manufactured Landscapes (2006) and Watermark (2013) - seems uncertain what precise point(s) he is trying to make. Thus, while this is certainly timely and even-handed, it also feels opportunist and rushed and represents a missed opportunity.