One Mile Away: the road to freedom

Penny Woolcock’s latest film, One Mile Away, is rapidly garnering media attention. The documentary gains access to the very guarded world of Birmingham’s gang culture. There are two major gangs – the Burger Bar Boys and The Johnson Crew. What is shocking, and eye-opening, about this film is the extent of the violence perpetrated by these gangs upon one another, and at what level this is ignored by the police and by the media.

During the film a few members of the gangs on either side attempt to end the violence that has become intrinsic to their way of life. Dylan Duffus, who met Penny on the set of her 2009 film, 1 day, heads the movement from the Burger side. Shabba, who Penny also met during her research for 1 day, represents the Johnson side. However, their peace mission proves incredibly difficult to sustain, until the 2011 riots. Faced with institutional prejudice there is a temporary cease fire as the two inner-city gangs recognise a common enemy.

There is no neat conclusion to the film but the team involved in One Mile Away are continuing the good work through a campaign which aims to take the film to the youths that will benefit most from it. The film, which won Best British Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, has been screened in several cities at select venues, often accompanied by a Q & A. See the website for future screenings.

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