Blue Story is a 2019 British crime drama film written, directed, and narrated by Rapman (Andrew Onwubolu) through the medium of rap. The film is Rapman's feature directorial debut and is based on his 2014 YouTube series of the same name, based on true events.
The film was released in the United Kingdom on 22 November 2019.
Premise[edit | edit source]
Blue Story is the tragic tale of best friends Marco and Timmy who, from different areas of London (Peckham and Deptford), find themselves becoming enemies in a violent and insidious postcode war. Blue Story is based around events of Rapman's own personal experiences growing up  in Deptford, in the London Borough of Lewisham, and being sent to Peckham, in the London Borough of Southwark, thereby crossing gang-affiliated borders. The film depicts real life gangs Peckham Boys and Ghetto Boys.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Marco and Timmy are best friends. One evening, Marco is attacked by a gang who break his right arm. Timmy notices the following morning but Marco feels let down by him, especially since the man who broke his arm was someone Timmy knew. Leah's intervention causes Marco to mock Timmy and Leah. Timmy decides to leave and Marco insults Leah leading to a fight stopped when Timmy knocks Marco to the ground, blacking his eye. Marco takes revenge by ambushing Timmy leading to a fight that Leah tries to break up. She is slapped and falls to the ground unconscious. She does not survive the injury. Timmy is knocked out with a brick.
Three years later, Timmy seeks revenge. He joins Madder's gang and attacks Marco after he leaves a pub. Madder advances towards Timmy encouraging the beating but is knocked out with a baseball bat by Switcher. Timmy stabs Switcher, who is then forced to move around in a wheelchair. By phone, Marco vows that he will find Timmy and kill him. Timmy is at last trapped in a van which has been surrounded by gasoline when Marco remembers their friendship. He also remembers what happened to his elder brother and so sets the van on fire intoxicating Timmy. Madder, who has survived a gunfight with Killy, who set Timmy up due to jealousy, retrieves the unconscious Timmy and is taken away by a policeman. Marco is arrested a few days later. His arrest causes Switcher to commit suicide.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Stephen Odubola as Timmy
- Micheal Ward as Marco
- Khali Best as Killy
- Karla-Simone Spence as Leah
- Eric Kofi-Abrefa as Switcher
- Kadeem Ramsey as Hakeem
- Junior Afolabi Salokun as Madder
- Rohan Nedd as Dwayne
- Sean Sager as Skitzer
- Tuwaine Barrett as Big T
- Richie Campbell as Tyrone
- Andre Dwayne as Gyalis
- Joshua Blisset as Daps
- Obada Adnan
Production[edit | edit source]
Rapman and BBC Films developed and co-financed the film, and in late 2018 Paramount Pictures bought worldwide distribution rights for the film. Damian Jones (of DJ Films) and Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor produced the film with Rose Garnett and Eva Yates of BBC Films; Charles Moore and Paul Grindey of Viewfinder, and Rapman were executive producers. Principal photography took place on 28 February 2019. Rapman's previous work includes the YouTube trilogy Shiro's Story.
The film had a budget of £1.3 million and was primarily shot in the London Borough of Enfield after Lewisham and other London boroughs refused to allow shooting, due to instructions from the office of the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, although the director says no one at the mayor's office had actually read the script.
Release[edit | edit source]
The film was released on 22 November 2019. Vue Cinemas and Showcase Cinemas in the UK decided to stop screening the film after an outbreak of violence during the film being shown at a cinema in Birmingham. Showcase resumed screenings a few days later. The film was released through Premium VOD in the United States on May 5, 2020, after the limited theatrical release on March 20, 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Critical response[edit | edit source]
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 91%, based on 34 reviews, with an average rating of 7.01/10. The website's consensus reads, "Raw and riveting, Blue Story overcomes its somewhat prosaic story with powerful performances and an impressive clarity of purpose." Mike McCahill of The Guardian gave the film 3/5 and called it "An assured and capably performed morality play." BBC Films say the film "powerfully depicts the futility of gang violence".
Awards and recognition[edit | edit source]
The film was short-listed alongside nine other films by British Academy of Film and Television Arts for the category of outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer but did not make it in the final nominations. Micheal Ward has won the EE BAFTA Rising Star award.
Birmingham machete incident[edit | edit source]
On 23 November 2019, The Independent reported that during a screening of Blue Story at Star City in Birmingham, England, police were attacked by a group armed with machetes. Police arrested five teenagers. Families were watching Frozen II when the disorder broke out, sparking an evacuation of the Star City complex, with police stating up to 100 teenagers were involved in the major disorder.
A spokesperson for West Midlands Police stated that "Dozens of officers were sent to the complex after a 999 call just after 5.30pm reporting a group of youths with machetes. Two machetes were seized during the trouble, which saw pockets of fighting and seven police officers left with minor injuries as they dealt with the crowds in and around the cinema." On 24 November 2019, West Midlands Police reported that a sixth teenager had been added to those arrested, which had included a female aged 13, a male and female both aged 14 and a 19-year-old man.
Following the disorder at Star City, the Vue Cinemas chain cancelled all screenings of Blue Story. A statement from Vue said that during the first 24 hours of the film more than 25 significant incidents were reported and escalated to senior management in 16 separate cinemas. Cinema chain Showcase subsequently also ceased showing the film, but the Odeon and Cineworld chains continued to screen it. The ban by Showcase and Vue was labelled as racist by some people on social media, with Showcase later reversing their decision. The film's director Rapman also questioned the reasons behind the ban.
Vue also said they would re-start showings, with increased security.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Leigh, Danny (8 November 2019). Rapman: the London film-maker who gatecrashed in style. The Guardian.
- Blue Story (2019) - Financial Information.
- Davey, Jacob (7 March 2019). Rapman’s Debut Feature Length Film Adaptation of Blue Story is Coming This Year.
- Shiro's Story creator to make a film. BBC News (1 March 2019).
- UK Grime Artist Rapman To Direct 'Blue Story' For Paramount & BBC Films (28 February 2019).
- Rapman to Direct Feature Length Adaption of 'Blue Story' (28 February 2019).
- Behind the scenes of ‘Blue Story’ – the most important London film of 2019 (19 November 2019).
- Archibald-Powell, Naimah (1 September 2019). Rapman announces release date for 'Blue Story'.
- Walawalker, Aaron (24 November 2019). 'Film about warring gangs is pulled after machete brawl at Birmingham cinema'.
- Crucchiola, Jordan (2020-08-06). Here Are All the Movies Delayed Because of the Coronavirus (in en-us).
- Blue Story (2020). Retrieved on 29 July 2020.
- Blue Story review – inner-city drama told with rap, rhythm and confidence (22 November 2019).
- Cinema chains pull gang film after 'machete' brawl. BBC News (25 November 2019). Retrieved on 25 November 2019.
- BAFTA: ‘For Sama,’ ‘Blue Story’ on Short List for Outstanding Debut by British Talent (9 December 2019).
- Randell, Louise (2020-01-07). Blue Story director sparks BAFTA race row over 'lack of black faces'.
- Awkwafina and Top Boy's Micheal Ward lead Bafta Rising Star shortlist (in en) (2020-01-06).
- Stubley, Peter (23 November 2019). Birmingham Star City: Police officers assaulted in brawl at cinema following 'machete' reports. Retrieved on 25 November 2019.
- Walawalkar, Aaron (24 November 2019). Film about warring gangs is pulled after machete brawl at Birmingham cinema. Retrieved on 25 November 2019.
- Dearden, Lizzie (24 November 2019). Birmingham Star City: 13-year-old girl among arrests after 'machete' brawl during Frozen 2 viewing. Retrieved on 25 November 2019.
- Balloo, Stephanie (24 November 2019). New police statement: Schoolgirls among teenagers arrested as machete riot breaks out at Star City. Retrieved on 25 November 2019.
- West Midlands Police Editors (24 November 2019). UPDATED: Sixth teenager arrested after Star City violence leaves seven officers injured. Retrieved on 25 November 2019.
- Young, Graham (24 November 2019). Exclusive: Vue bans Blue Story film from all its cinemas in the wake of Star City riots. Retrieved on 25 November 2019.
- The Morning Star Editors (24 November 2019). Vue bans Blue Story after violence at Frozen II screening. Retrieved on 25 November 2019.
- Baggs, Michael (26 November 2019). 'Institutionally racist': Blue Story ban faces backlash.
- Roberts, Joe (24 November 2019). Vue accused of ‘blatant racism’ after banning Blue Story over machete attack. Retrieved on 25 November 2019.
- Cinema chain reinstates showings of gang film (25 November 2019).
- Rapman questions 'hidden reasons' for film ban (27 November 2019).
- Vue boss plans to rescreen banned film (28 November 2019).