Ghettalife *** 3/5
Hammersmith, London W6
13th September 2012
Ghettalife is a well told Jamaican story about the struggles of determined, aspiring, teenage Boxer Derrick , played by Kevoy Burton, as he looks to carve out a boxing career that will ultimately result in him proudly representing his country Jamaica.
Not only does Derrick have to navigate sparring and training, the movies main dramatic tension stems from the slowly rising tension as the viewer anticipates destructive and violent consequences as a result of his interaction with the youths he’s training with. Many of them detest him simply for being from the wrong part of town. Just training at the gym in itself is a big enough problem for political and geographical reasons. It’s a little reminiscent of London’s post code wars affecting teenagers in certain areas of the capital.
As the two areas don’t mix for political reasons, the results are divided sporting, family and political loyalties to contend with as his prominent father represents the opposing political party to that running the area which encompasses the Boxing gym.
The movie dramatically and excitingly portrays the daring risks this young man is taking as his actions stir the garrison town divide in Jamaica and seriously upsets Sin, one of the local Don’s, who with his henchmen make violently and graphically clear their displeasure.
Whilst applauding Derrick’s desire of better himself and be non-partisan I found his attitude very selfish and naive in the extreme, for it not only put his life at risk, but also that of his mother, father and friends. It reminds me of Prince Harry who just last week returned to battle in Kabul, Afghanistan. He’s following what he’s trained to do, yet putting his colleague’s life at risk as his well reported return has made his and US troops a bigger target now for insurgents. On the day I write this, 15th August 2012, the death of two US soldiers was announced.
The movie’s no Rocky when it comes to the boxing scenes, but it certainly packs a dramatic and exciting punch as we watch the drama unfold both in and outside of the boxing ring, with fights, threats and violence, plus a little romance and humour thrown in to the entertaining mix too.
The single minded focus shown by Derrick reminded me of the attitude adopt ed by the elite Olympians and Paralympians this Summer who delivered outstanding medal winning performances, that will have doubtless inspired so many watching to go and do better in whatever they do, be it sport or otherwise.
It was nice to see a cameo from former World Boxing Champion Lennox Lewis, who also happened to be Associate Producer of this movie.
There was a warmth to the movie which I enjoyed and an underlying message of the futility of gang warfare that exists in big cities not just in Jamaica but across the world.
Ghettalife was promoted by Kushfilms who have been promoting and screening Black movies since 1998. The next screenings of this film are scheduled for Bristol and Birmingham in November 2012. Unfortunately the movie received only a very brief, limited UK cinema release (2011) hence the ad hoc screenings that Kush have been promoting this Summer in Tottenham, Peckham and Hammersmith. If you wish to see more Black movies then the attendance at screenings of the movie going public is required to demonstrate the popularity and create a momentum and demand for wider film distribution of Black films.
Tiemo Talk of the Town