Penny Woolcock and the ‘stars’ of One Mile Away.

Yesterday was the official cinematic release of the documentary movie One Mile Away directed by Penny Woolcock.

It will be shown in London’s ICA cinema and other art houses across the UK where it will be seen predominantly by white, middle class groups who are not the target audience.

To ensure that it gets to be seen by the right people it should soon be available online and DVD copies are going to be given away to kids from inner-city areas. Woolcock explains this unusual method of distribution by saying: “All along our ambition for the film has never been to make money; the idea is to get this into areas where gang lifestyle is a real problem and get people listening to others”. 

The  film charts efforts to bring about peace on the streets of Birmingham in the English Midlands. By all accounts,it’s a movie that gives voice to two rival drug-dealing gangs of black youths,the Burgers and the Johnsons. Crucially it allows them to tell their side of the story without imposing a narrative structure or seeking to take any moral position.

As a white woman in her 50s, Woolcock says she was able to win the trust of some of the key players in a way that a young male would never have managed.

Even if it only makes a small change to a few lives the movie will have been worth making and is to be applauded for addressing the human issues behind social problems that heavy-handed police tactics and unenlightened government policies will never change in a million years.

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