Dummy Jim is based on the life of Scotsman James Duthie, a profoundly deaf man who documented his threemonth, 3,000-mile cycling trek from his small fishing village in northeast Scotland to the northern edge of Norway in “I Cycled Into the Arctic Circle,” an obscure book published in 1951. Visual artist Matt Hulse, an FNC short-film alumnus (The Harrachov Exchange, 2007) came across the story of the affectionately nicknamed ‘Dummy Jim’ (who died in a traffic accident in 1965, the details of which remain muddled to this day) and set out to recover Duthie’s hidden history and re-imagine both the man and his journey. Collaborating with deaf actor and filmmaker Samuel Dore (who fully inhabits both the man and the mission), Hulse traces the blood on the tracks in both fictional and documentary mode, incorporating split screen archival footage, Super 8, animation and a hand-hewn,
eclectic score by the Daniel Padden Ensemble and the instrument-maker Sarah Kenchington. One of the year’s most audacious cinematic experiences, serving up a rich selection of sound and vision, Dummy Jim is less re-imagining than re-imaging, its magnificent ambition as fearless as its subject’s determination and resolve.
— Madeleine Molyneaux