A highly praised new film opens at cinemas around the country tomorrow. David Whetstone talks to Wearsider Gayle Griffiths, producer of My Brother The Devil.
A BRITISH film feted at festivals and premiered in America opens in Newcastle and nationwide tomorrow, sparking memories of a story The Journal published 15 years ago.
It told of Gayle Griffiths, a 30-year-old National Film School student from Sunderland, whose two-minute film, The Price, won a screen shorts competition, meaning it was shown on big screens in eight British cities.
“Any film-maker wants their work to be enjoyed by as many people as possible,” a delighted Gayle said at the time.
“My plans are to start an independent production company for audiences to enjoy my films from Birmingham to Bangkok.”
It’s always nice to report on dreams being fulfilled and Gayle is equally delighted that the full-length feature film My Brother The Devil will open tomorrow at cinemas around the country, including the Empire at The Gate, Newcastle.
Gayle, who now has her own company, Wild Horses Films, has a string of production credits to her name including the Bafta-winning Kiss Of Life, Archipelago and My Brother The Devil, which tells of a pair of British Egyptian brothers growing up on the sometimes mean streets of Hackney in London.
It was written and directed by Sally El Hosaini and is her debut feature film. Already it has earned her the Best British Newcomer Award at the London Film Festival and two awards at the influential Sundance Film Festival in America where it had its world premiere this year.
Gayle says: “Sally approached me because she was looking for a producer who had experience of making good films on a relatively modest budget.
“She’d never made a feature film before but I read the script and thought it was a brilliant project.”
Sally El Hosaini is of Welsh and Egyptian extraction but lives in Hackney and was inspired, says Gayle, by the attitudes she experienced in the wake of the London Underground bombings in 2005, particularly towards young Muslim men.
“There are a lot of young men on the streets in Hackney and Sally was very brave and went out and got to know some of them.
“What she found was that things are not necessarily what they seem to be from the outside. Life can be difficult for these young men so they tend to stick together and create families within their own peer group. It’s how they cope with living on the streets.
“Sally wanted to make a film showing their situation from the inside. There’s actually a lot of joy and beauty in the film and a lot of people have picked up on the fact that it really does shine a light into a corner of British life that would otherwise be misunderstood.”
My Brother The Devil stars newcomer Fady Elsayed as Mo, an impressionable youngster, and James Floyd as Rashid, the older brother he idolises. Their performances have been praised by critics.
According to the synopsis: “Rashid wants a different life for his little brother and will do whatever it takes to put him through college.
“Aching to be seen as a tough guy himself, Mo takes a job that unlocks a fateful turn of events and forces the brothers to confront their inner demons.”
According to Sally El Hosaini, although the film touches on themes of prejudice and identity, “at its heart it’s a love story between two brothers”.