From the impressive roster of films premiering at this week’s East End Film Festival comes ‘voice for the voiceless’, 'Riot from Wrong'. Directed by Ted Nygh - who has turned his hand from acting in fictional dystopias, including 'Adulthood' and 'Shooters', to documenting the very real unrest of last year’s London riots - the film includes previously unseen footage of those (heavily documented) few days. In what is bound to generate immense sadness, the film also deals with Mark Duggan’s friends and family, and how the events of last summer continue to impact their lives. Dazed Digital spoke to two of the film’s producers, Nick Bedu and Rowan Carnihan, at last night's premiere screening.
We wanted to supply some sort of balance. The media reaction to the riots was so one-sided, we really wanted to talk to people who's voices are often dismissed whilst also talking to politicians, police, journalists, community leaders, etc
Dazed Digital: There was so much footage of the riots, how did you begin sorting through it all?
Nick Bedu and Rowan Carnihan: It was a long process. The research team, made up of the youth committee and two external researchers who volunteered their services, trawled youtube to find footage with impact that would help convey the events. Then the users were contacted to ask for permission. Through our extensive networks we were also able to access footage taken on mobile devices that had not been seen anywhere else.
DD: Did you want to present the events from a particular angle?
Nick Bedu and Rowan Carnihan: We wanted to supply some sort of balance. The media reaction to the riots was so one-sided, we really wanted to talk to people who's voices are often dismissed whilst also talking to politicians, police, journalists, community leaders, etc. It was clear to us that there are underlying issues affecting all of society and not just young people, so we wanted to highlight these whilst also exploring positive solutions.
DD: What did you learn from making the film?
Nick Bedu and Rowan Carnihan: So much: it's hard to boil it down to a sentence or two. I guess you could say we rediscovered the knowledge that young people cannot be pigeonholed into any singular category and that age does not have to be a barrier to positivity, progress or intelligence. Interestingly, we also found that the more people we interviewed across a vast spectrum of age, class and background, the more unanimous they were about the root of the unrest, as well as having the same suggestions for solutions. As clichéd as it sounds, it really re-iterated that you simply cannot judge a book by its cover and people are much more than a sensationalist headline.
DD: What do you believe were the long-term affects of the London riots? Did they change people's attitudes in any permanent way?
Nick Bedu and Rowan Carnihan: Long-term effects are still to be discovered. In many ways it brought communities together. Other people lost so much, from personal possessions to trust. The riots have hardened a lot of people's attitudes to young people and whilst we do not condone rioting or looting or burning, we do believe that as a whole, people are often products of whatever environment they were born into or exist in and as such, the socio-economic backdrop to the riots needs to be taken into account and looked at in a deeper way.
DD: How do you anticipate audiences will respond?
Nick Bedu and Rowan Carnihan: Well, for a start, if they're there, they have already opened their mind to an extent. It depends on your outlook and views. Riot from Wrong is not a pessimistic film, we at Fully Focused Productions are not pessimistic people so I would hope that it inspires people to at least challenge their perceptions or to give back and re-embrace community spirit. We have a campaign entitled MYM - Million Youth Movement in which our youth committee / steering group hope to mobilise and galvanise young people into achieving positive things in their and the people around them.
DD: What else are you looking forward to seeing at the East London festival?
Nick Bedu and Rowan Carnihan: A few of us were lucky enough to see 'Arena: Amy Winehouse - The Day She Came to Dingle' which was screened at the festivals opening gala. We are also looking forward to '1/2 Revolution' about the Egyptian revolution, 'East Enders' which is a series of shorts about life in East London. 'Olympics' looks interesting too, as does 'The Olympic Side of London'. 'The Tempest' also looks up our street as it follows teenagers meeting up and rehearsing for a theatre show.
Follow Nathalie Olah on Twitter here @NROlah