We’ve recently been lucky enough to be working on the PR for a feature-length documentary from acclaimed director, Penny Woolcock, called One Mile Away. A brutally honest look at the attempts of two men – Shabba (B6) and Dylan (B21) – from warring postcodes to bring peace to the streets of Birmingham. With one of the highest rates of gun crime in the country, the rivalry between The Johnsons and The Burger Bar Boys was turning certain areas of Birmingham into an inner-city warzone. Sick of the daily violence, Shabba approached Penny Woolcock and put an idea to her – to broker a peace agreement between the two gangs. Having worked with both gangs to produce her fictional hip-hop musical 1 Day in 2009, based on gang rivalry in Birmingham, Penny was seen as something as a neutral character who could act as a go-between. She approached Dylan, who she had become close with during filming, and he agreed to take part.
Three years down the line and violence in the B6 and B21 areas of Birmingham has dropped, and Penny has produced a moving and powerful documentary about the boys’ efforts, which will be aired on Channel 4 in April and be screened at selected cinemas throughout the UK in March and April. The response has been impressive. The film was screened at BAFTA to applause from a packed audience and the boys and Penny Woolcock have been interviewed by everyone from Observer New Review to Dazed and Confused magazine.
The social enterprise that came about as a result of the documentary, also named One Mile Away, is going from strength to strength – former gang members take the message of the film into local schools, screen Penny’s documentary to teenagers and mentor young gang members. You can find out more about their work here: www.onemileaway.com
Channel 4 news will run a report on the documentary, and the work of the social enterprise, on their evening news show on Thursday 28 March.
Watch out for them on BBC Breakfast on April 2, and BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and BBC Radio 3 Nightwaves in the next few days.