UK FILM REVIEW: ONE MILE AWAY (THE BIRMINGHAM GANG STORY)

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One Mile Away, scooped the Michael Powell award for best feature film at last year’s Edinburgh Film Festival, it stars Dylan Duffus (who played the character of Flash in  the Film 1 Day) and is produced by PennnyWoolcock – responsible for the 2009 hip-hop musical 1 Day. The Title One Mile Away is a reference to the short distance between the two rival territories. This documentary covers the raw unscripted journey of two Birmingham men trying to start a peace process between two warring gangs in an English city that has been plagued by gang related murders, high crime rates and prisons and cemeteries full of gang members. The Burger Bar Boys and the Jhonson Crews have clashed and caused bloodshed and split loyalty in Birminghams community for decades, this film is the story of two mens determination to end it all once and for all.

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It was filmed over a two-year period and is documented in an explicitly real way, nothing is glamourised, from the first cautious and awkward encounter between the two peace promoters, in a neutral location, to chilling street interviews with Birmingham’s youth and elders alike, the film uncovers the emotions that are felt by an entire community that has been pushed aside.

The film is an honest account of gang life and it’s affect on others, watching young people talk about their past and their daily experiences of violence is a call to the audience to take a look at the state of their own community and  try to change things.

“This cannot be living. I don’t believe this is what we were put here to do.”

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This brutally honest account of gang life and the attempt to finish what was started by their peers makes it clear that the admirable work of Dylan, Shabba and the other young people who are determined to initiate change will continue long after the camera is switched off.

The dedication to creating a truce is always the central storyline throughout the course of the documentary despite distractions such as intervention in filming from the police, an awful 4-day  violence spree or the  media hyped 2011 riots. The cause and aim of the film is still decidedly clear – “We just want a better future for them.”

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One Mile Away is released on march 29th and will air on Channel 4 next month.

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