Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go

A film by Kim Longinotto

UK | 2007 | 100 minutes | Color | DVD | Order No. 09936


Harrowing at one moment and heartwarming the next, HOLD ME TIGHT, LET ME GO is set at England’s Mulberry Bush School, founded by Barbara Dockar-Drysdale who developed unique methods for working with children suffering through severe emotional trauma.

“Longinotto, director of award-winning SISTERS IN LAW, spent a year filming these children, who are prone to sudden, violent outbursts, and their teachers, who display enormous restraint and sensitivity. The children’s problems are real, deep and stubborn — but the long arc of recovery is clear, with hope for these troubled children just over the horizon. Over the course of 30 years, Longinotto has established herself as one of the most prolific and perceptive practitioners of cinema verité. Here, she and her steady, unobtrusive camera capture an intimate and unforgettable tale of the human capacity to hurt and to heal.” – Jason Silverman, True/False Film Festival


"Mixing ferocity with tenderness, delicacy with tenacity ... a docu of uncompromised integrity and edge-of-the seat drama"

John Anderson Variety

“Observational non-fiction at its most invigorating.”

Michael Tully Hammer to Nail

“Profoundly moving.”

Ben Tanzer Prevent Child Abuse America

“Worthwhile… offers a clear-eyed look at what it takes to help emotionally abused kids get back on track.”

Rob Owen Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Disturbing but always captivating, deeply-moving, and very well-done overall…. Highly recommended for all libraries, especially those supporting education, social work, and child psychology programs.”

Justice Cronise, SUNY Buffalo Educational Media Reviews Online

“**** Harrowing… an honest and heartfelt look into the issues that colour the lives of those that call this place home”

Carrie Bailey Epoch Times

“Remarkable … shot with clarity and human kindness.”

Jason Solomons The Observer

“Moving and rewarding…sensitively filmed…shows [Longinotto’s] skill at capturing the humanity of people and situations in an extremely accessible manner”

Paul Griffiths Eye for Film

"Disturbing, deeply moving and even at times, darkly comic …a very strong piece of work”

David Jenkins Time Out London

“***** (Five stars) Brave…Wonderful…Go see this film.”

Peter Wintonick POV Magazine

“The Mulberry Bush School does quite simply, extraordinary work. It is a unique school, a unique opportunity, a unique vision.”

Joanna Trollope Patron


  • Britdoc, Best British Feature Documentary
  • Int'l Doc Film Festival Amersterdam, Special Jury Prize
  • Britspotting, Berlin, Best Documentary
  • Birds Eye View, Best Documentary
  • London Film Festival
  • Margaret Mead Film Festival
  • Los Angeles Film Festival
  • Seattle Int'l Film Festival
  • Hot Docs, Canadian Int'l Film Festival
  • Sheffield Film Festival
  • True/ False Film Festival
  • Bermuda Int'l Film Festival
  • Atlantic Film Festival
  • Frames of Mind Film Festival
  • Watch Docs Human Rights Film Festival


Kim Longinotto

Kim Longinotto (born 1952) is a British documentary filmmaker, well known for making films that highlight the plight of female victims of oppression or discrimination. Longinotto studied camera and directing at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England, where she now tutors occasionally.

Longinotto was born to an Italian father and a Welsh mother; her father was a photographer who later went bankrupt. At the age of 10 she was sent to a draconian all-girls boarding school, where she found it hard to make friends due to the mistress forbidding anyone to talk to her for a term after she became lost during a school trip. After a period of homelessness, Longinotto went on to Essex University to study English and European literature and later followed friend and future filmmaker, Nick Broomfield to the National Film and Television School. While studying, she made a documentary about her boarding school that was shown at the London Film Festival, since when she has continued to be a prolific documentary filmmaker.

Longinotto is an observational filmmaker. Observational cinema, also known as direct cinema, free cinema or cinema verite, usually excludes certain documentary techniques such as advanced planning, scripting, staging, narration, lighting, reenactment and interviewing. Longinotto’s unobtrusiveness, which is an important part of observational documentary, gives the women on camera a certain voice and presence that may not have emerged with another documentary genre. She has received a number of awards for her films over the years, including a BAFTA for her documentary PINK SARIS.

Among her more than 20 films, she has followed a teenager struggling to become a wrestling star in 2000’s GAEA GIRLS, challenged the tradition of female genital mutilation in Kenya in 2002’s THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET, and told the story of an Indian Muslim woman who smuggled poetry out to the world while locked up by her family in 2013’s SALMA. In 2015's DREAMCATCHER Longinotto looks at the life and work of a former sex worker who rescues Chicago girls from the street.

Her new film SHOOTING THE MAFIA, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. (3/19)


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