Every May, Everyman Cinemas run a music-film festival. It’s a festival which celebrates the relationship between the visual (cinema) and the aural (music). The films and events selected can be anything from live performance to films with an amazing soundtrack, and the 2016 festival went off, and myself and my colleague finally had the chance to combine our two passions- film and grime.
Filmmaker and photographer Simon Wheatley, whose photo collection Don’t Call Me Urban, which depicted then up-and-coming wannabe grime MC’s on various estates in Bow, was a staple for grime heads everywhere on it’s release. We were excited to learn that Simon was in the process of making a documentary about grime crew The Square. The fundamental thing that we wanted more than anything, was to have people come along, sit down, and listen, to take grime seriously. Grime can be exciting, immature, and fun, but it comes from a place that is so much more than that, so it was vital that the evening captured the whole range. Simon’s skill as a filmmaker and the natural charisma of Elf Kid, Blakie and the crew on camera, meant that we were faced with a room, packed to the rafters with people- many of whom didn’t seem to know what grime was about- and listening, taking stock of what these boys at the very beginning of their journey had to say. And that is the real power of cinema, it’s why representation on screen is so, so important. It’s easy to see why grime has taken off again in recent times, but it’s important to contextualise it, especially if the things that artists are spitting about don’t automatically make sense to you.
The screening was followed by a Q+A chaired by Vice’s Alex Hoffman, and Elf Kid, Blakie, Simon Wheatley and Discarda, and people. Simon and Discarda, one of the original MC’s from grime’s initial birth, provided an insightful context to the history of the scene, and Elf and Blakie were able to bring it up to the present day. They chatted about police, about raves, about the crazy nature of their day-to-day and how they scraped through to keep the scene alive.
Obviously it would’ve been rude to have ended the night there without a bit of a rave up, and the electric performance from The Square ended the night on the highest of highs. It was exciting to watch, knowing that you were seeing them just before they explode and become household names.
Big (belated) thanks to each and every person who made this event the highlight of my career so far, it was ace.
Here is the latest track from The Square, Defeat Us- watch this space for more from Simon Wheatley too.