Category Archives: Film

One Mile Away: Exclusive interview with Simeon ‘Zimbo’ Moore

Managing to rush through the crowd, I had the opportunity to pull Simeon Moore aka ‘Zimbo’ away from everyone wanting to take his photograph, for just a few minutes, to quiz him on exactly why he wasn’t so enthusiastic about the peace movement and how important it is for communities to regain power.

My mentality didn’t change – I changed what was going on. So it went from bringing peace to changing mindsets. 

Image

A troubled youth himself, the father-of-two from Aston, Birmingham, at the tender age of 13 had aspirations to be a “gang banger” – just one of the crippling effects of growing up in a fatherless home where he sought leadership from elders on the streets. What followed was a by-any-means-necessary existence as a “road man”.

Nobody’s themselves, nobody’s their true self, everybody wants to be this prototype – this hardcore gangster – or what they believe to be ‘gangster’ or ‘hard’.

Image

An advocate of challenging self-perception and raising self-esteem, Simeon now co-founds the One Mile Away Organisation with fellow cast members, Dylan Duffus, who also jumps in with a few words, Matthias Thompson (Shabba) and Joel Eccleston (YT). The aim of the organisation, which plans to launch several projects, is to quite simply change lives. Targeting vulnerable youths with the combined Road to Freedom Tour (starting 15th April 2013), Big Brother Little Brother mentoring scheme, Survival Kit and Going the Mile programmes focus the intervention where it’s needed, at a grassroots level.

Take a listen to what both Simeon and Dylan had to say below:

Advertisements

Film Review: One Mile Away

Director: Penny Woolcock
Certificate: 15
Running time: 90 mins
Release date: 29th March 2013

Welcome to Birmingham – a city tarnished by the 20-year postcode war between rival gangs, the Burger Bar Boys (B21) and Johnson Crew (B6). If pavements could talk, they’d tell the harrowing stories of all those lives cut short by their so-called ‘enemies’, separated by just a stretch of main road; stories reiterated on camera as award-winning filmmaker, Penny Woolcock (One Day; The Principles of Lust; Mischief Night) documents the mission of two men from the opposing sides as they meet in secret to draw a metaphorical line across the blood stains with a truce.

Image

The reason for the war? Matthias Thompson aka ‘Shabba’ openly admits he has no idea but when his disclosure precedes a man, affiliated to the Johnsons, showing the camera two bullet holes in the walls where he narrowly escaped with his life, the realisation is sudden and unrelenting but has you questioning: how did the tensions reach this level? And has it gone too far for peace? Side-by-side with ally, Dylan Duffus, lead actor in drama, One Day, the film tracks the pair’s two-year journey to recruit others for the cause and the hostility they face along the way.

Digesting the news and their nonchalant headlines of gang warfare, we disconnect; forgetting that in reality, those names mentioned belong to families. An intimate interview with the mother of Marcus Ellis, one-of-four convicted for the New Years Eve murders of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare in Aston, alongside his solicitor and barrister, explores a further narrative to the story – the criminal justice system – which is strengthened by gritty footage of the 2011 UK riots and obstruction from the police authorities, who in Dylan’s words, sought to have the project shut down.

Image

Within the first few minutes of the film’s opening, the message of One Mile Away could easily have been lost through the inner-city slang, (which required subtitles) baseball caps and the pattern of black male faces. However, listening to the plight of men aged as young as 15, who have lost close friends and rarely feel safe outside, it’s clear the enormity of the task at hand and how monumental talks of peace from those who have lived it, really is.

Over 90 minutes, you’re taken on a very eye-opening journey that stirs all kinds of mixed feelings towards society, as we now know it – the family unit, government authorities and the media. Bringing about peace is just one edge of the coin but the other is so embroiled in anger and resentment, at so many moments in the film you’re compelled to just reach out and give all of those young men a hug. Without glamorising gang culture, One Mile Away manages to describe the predatory nature of the streets, along with the dangers and complexities of ‘road life’. Its heart beats in Brum town but its significance echoes across the entire UK for all to empathise with and relate to.

8/10

Support the One Mile Away #RoadToFreedomTour through their Kickstarter campaign: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/313414227/one-mile-away

For details of screenings near you: http://onemileaway.co.uk/screenings

Listen to an exclusive interview with co-founder of the One Mile Away Organisation and cast member, Simeon ‘Zimbo’ Moore at the Birmingham premiere of the film here.

Film review: Smile Gambia

Director: Selina Brown
Certificate: U
Running time: 10 mins

It doesn’t take a person to have travelled all corners of the Earth to figure that the disused-railway-arch-turned-night-spot is a far cry from Gambia – the country I’ve read described as the ‘smiling coast of Africa.’ Sat on a stiff wooden church bench, red mood lighting covers the dark wood and brick with a sangria overcoat, while the gentleman’s lounge-style light fittings give the impression of middle-class grandeur and evening solace. All that’s lacking is a brandy snifter and pipe to match my crimson lips but I came to indulge in film, and in my excitement, forgot my purse, so no such luck for a beverage.

Smile Gambia poster

Smile Gambia, Selina Brown’s journey to spread her eternal happiness across continents attracted many more than just those in their one’s and two’s. A lively room, where African prints stood upright without the hanger of an out-of-touch and underweight runway model. Locs hang loose from scarves adorned by patterns that merge with the loose kinks of hair coiled above the ear. It’s a beautiful dimmed sight hidden away in Spotlight Bar, Digbeth – a cavern where the lights remain low to allow the culture beats to take centre stage and satisfy the ears of all those who have come to share in the premiere.

Capturing the essence of what can be created with a big heart and big ambitions to match, it was testament that ‘whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.’ Through her own self admission, armed with nothing but the laws of attraction and Facebook, Director of grassroots organisations, Dream BIG and Creative High, Selina asked herself: “How can I spread some love around the world?” The answer, encapsulated in this short 10 minute documentary, was to follow her roots back to Africa, but this time with generous donations from England to share amongst some of the poorest villages in Gambia.

This was no Oxfam campaign or Save the Children sob-story on screen; no doubt helped by collaborating with the talented Richi Fingerz, film-maker and founder of SoUk. The opening credits flashed on top of stunning aerial shots caught flying over Gambia, while the shaky camera and point-of-view framing gave it added realism and sincerity. If you’ve never experienced the hilarity of travelling through an African airport, you’ll find yourself amused very early on; followed by tears and swollen eyes, but ending in the utmost joy, gratitude and choral singing. The entire film sang a beautiful melody to everyone in the audience so here it is below for your viewing pleasure.

4/5