Sunday, 14 December 2014

a heavy weightless thing

a heavy weightless thing (audio) 
(click on image for audio version on Sound Cloud)

It comes slowly and silently, with autumn cloud tenderness. Warm handed it will hold you, caress and lull you softly into its sleep. Or it comes all together at once, loud and sudden, like thunder, violent like a fist that hits whilst you are looking the other way, whilst you are dreaming.
of tomorrow. It will grab the future from your vision, until you can see only today.
It is heavy. Like the heaviest weightless thing you have ever carried. The burden of it will not fall upon your hands and shake it, nor upon your back and break it. It will be heavy within you, like smog, like a dead thing; alive but dying. Like how the first breath, and the last breath is the same; and in the moment of it, it is difficult to tell which is which.

It will rest upon your bones and tell you that you are not moving today. The message comes from a full empty place, a faceless face; nothing seen, and a voiceless voice; nothing heard, but it is clear, and it is there. You are not moving today. And you will not move. Your veins will become hollow, like abandoned temples once filled with prayer. Not even prayer will move you. And what is prayer, if there is no sound? That thing you were looking forward to suddenly becomes burden, so you will make excuses. I am not feeling well; I am not feeling myself. I am not feeling. But then you remember their face, and see how it looks at you when you are not there when you said you would be. Their face now reminds you of how you feel inside, and because you know how it feels to feel this way and you do not want them to feel this way, so you go, to that thing. And they, they only feel this way on their face, but you, you feel this way in your bones, and it grinds you, all the way to dust. So you go, to that thing, and there you are, moveless. Though you thought you beat it, didn’t you?
At least for today you thought you beat that voice without a voice when you went, but it was right when it said you are not moving today because you went to this thing and you did not move, just like it said. You were there and you did not move.

There are times when you will move, but even in your moving you are moveless, for the times when you move and you think you have beaten it by moving, you eventually realise that your moving was on the outside. That even the moment of your moving, your inside does not move, and you feel this. You feel this when your moving is finished and you go back to being still, to it being right, that voice without a voice. It speaks. But for a moment, you were happy, because they were happy, for they saw you move but did not know that your moving was not like theirs though it looked the part.

And you give yourself, to your destruction because the fall is much easier than the climb. The fall is weightless. A perpetual freedom. The ground is closer to touch than the sky, so why reach up? Why when you will never be able to feel the sky? The sky envelopes. The sky consumes. It is heavy.
And this, this is the root of your affliction; knowing that you are nothing but this destruction but at the same time, more than it ; knowing that you cannot escape it - your destruction - for if you do, it will push you further away from them, further on your own. Your freedom, is liberating, a weightlessness all of its own, but it comes not without pain, for the pain is knowing that you are alone in this. and though your lonesomeness soothes you, it is also your breaking for no one was born to be alone. Too well, you know this. We are born, we die, and during, we rest in between the tender balance of things. Of all things. Though we wish to be, we are never quite alone and though we wish to be, we are never quite included. We exist on the peripheries; this tender balance, we carry the degrees of its experience and it rests heavy in us, on us, of us. It takes too much and gives too little yet we feel it all. A heavy weightless thing.

If only you knew that it too breathes, like you. That it's infinite expanding is like your lungs, and the air it breathes is the ethereal star dust of the universe. It feels and suffers like you, like you it is the bearer of pain and not just it's own. It harbours the pain of those who do not have their stories told; the silenced; the muted; the forgotten. And that's why it is heavy on you because you feel their pain; those whose suffering makes a song in the ears of the deaf and their dancing rythymless feet tramples all over its melody. Their pain makes you feel more of your own, and so you feel more of theirs. It is chemical melancholy and that's why it is beautiful for it does not look at itself with a greater beauty than it looks at others. It's shining is not from its own light.
If only you knew that you that it is neither your light nor your darkness that scares, it is the beauty of the gentle balance between; this hard softness; this tender strength. That you might find it there.
It, like you, rests in the gentle balance of all things. So do not just give yourself to one way, too much, to one thing. Do not let despair be the heavy upon your soul, without hope being the wings that lifts it up. Do not stay still.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Kebab and Ackee & Saltfish (film review)

Saturday 20th September saw the screening of two new short films “Kebab” and “Ackee & Saltfish” at the Rio Cinema, in Dalston, Hackney, by independent film makers (who I will introduce you to shortly). I had the pleasure of being a part of the audience in what was a surprisingly satisfying experience, particularly for what set out to an ordinary Saturday afternoon.  
I offer a brief review of the two films from my perspective, and – as I’m sure you are by now used to – a reflection on the wider issues that were raised.

Kebab by Abraham Popoola (@abefeels) was stirring. It is set in the kitchen of a house shared by two young men. Anthony (played by Jamael Westman) – a university educated, office professional. A well to do young man with a brazenness and condescension that can turn the milk in your tea turn sour. His flat mate, Cameron also university educated, is a victim of his current circumstances of unemployment, apathy and despair. He has found, what seems to be a recent attachment, some kind of overzealous comfort in his Christian faith.
Anthony arrives home at 2am with a Kebab, and is startled by the presence of Cameron sitting alone in the kitchen, glass of water on the table, with an entranced stare into the distance. They begin to dialogue. Each sentence reveals a little bit about their circumstances and beliefs, as well as their character.  It is well written, with a good balance of humour and tension.
Cameron complains emphatically about the fact he has not eaten all day, and it is Anthony’s duty to share the Kebab, who has had enough, and reminds him that he needs to work to get money to pay for food, and the rent he owes him. And that his ideals of living and working in pursuit of his passion is unrealistic.
The narrative enters the religio-philosophical realm of discussion. The highlight of which is Anthony rhetorically demanding “doesn’t it say in your book that heaven helps those who helps themselves”, to which Cameron replies “no”, though he knows it is true.
Anthony then forces Cameron into a humiliating compromise offering him the Kebab only if he cleans his shoes, not with his sleeves, as he attempted to do but with his tongue. Anthony is forced to seriously consider, which raises the tension and leaves the audience in suspense, until he makes the decision and is taken on a path that dramatically changes everything.

*WARNING: skip this paragraph because this is spoiler where I discuss what happens in the end. If you don’t want to know what happens. Move on.

The scene where Cameron  snaps and finally stabs Anthony to death then returns to his seat and with all the satiating calmness in his bones to devour the Kebab is what makes the film so stirring and gripping. And I could completely identify with this character, not necessarily for the violence but for the fact that it was a very intelligent use, by the film maker, of an extreme example to illustrate a point or evoke a particular response/emotion from the audience. We often identify with struggle, but we emulate or deify, and make gods of, success or those who are successful, which immortalises them to the point that even we believe that they are not worthy of death (judgement), regardless of what dehumanising acts they may commit.

Kebab works really well at analyse the dichotomous narrative of power that exists between the oppressor and the oppressed, the poor and the rich, the corporation and the worker, the privileged and the unprivileged, and their relative juxtaposed experiences due to their position in a global hegemonic society.
We often expect those who are suffering, poor, and disempowered to be the most righteous, peaceful and non-violent in any given situation, when in fact, the consequence of their suffering often occurs as a result of circumstances that are forced violently upon them.
This is film that offers a lot of food for thought. The challenge will be though, if it is to be expand to feature length, creating a plot/storyline and narrative that is encapsulating, and perhaps, offers the audience more insight into the characters.


Ackee & Saltfish by Cecile Emeke (@cecileemeke) is comparable to walking up to a wardrobe, opening it and, at most, expecting some nice clothes, but instead being transported into another world of conscious critical thought. It is the Narnia – or at least has the potential to be in a full length feature – the veritable Narnia of critical independent film.
It is set in Dalston, Hackney, and follows two beautiful, stylish, intelligent, engaging young black women Olivia (played by @finding_seiko)  and Rachel (@scarlet_voice) as they venture in their local area to buy a prepared meal from an independent shop they frequent in their younger years.
The trailer, which I really enjoyed watching, makes you expect nothing more than a romantic comedy. “I want a Common (the rapper)… a nice bald headed brother with a beard” Olivia says.
What actually followed was a deluge of critical thought; through the brilliant use of intelligent humour, wit and sarcasm, the film progresses to touch on issues affecting local communities such as gentrification, class, education, racism, as well as religion. It was engaging right the way through.
The story flows from the personal to the political, the sensitivities of which, is so well captured and expressed sincerely through the natural onscreen dynamism the actors have with each other.
One thing I particularly liked about this film is that it came from the perspective of black women, sharing their story, interacting with each other, without the pressures of other groups that try to dominate that narrative, which is too often overlooked in the mainstream.

I fell in love with how it was shot. The visuals amazed. It made Dalston high street - a street that I personally have such fond memories about whether it is the Centerprise Bookshop that was closed down some years ago or walking through Ridley Road Market with my mum on a Saturday carrying all the shopping in the cold until I couldn’t feel my hands – look so endearing and captivating. The imagery had a vibrancy beyond that which you would ordinarily see.

Ackee & Saltfish does well to tackle multiple issues that are affecting the inner city communities in London. It also presents the characters in such a dichotomous way, in regards to critical conscious thought, very much in the way that Malcolm X and Martin Luther King are presented – “it’s not every day Malcolm X”, challenging the audience to choose the character they identify with and venture introspectively to see where they may lie in this debate. I think it has a lot of potential to be expanded into a full length feature or webseries.

Abraham Popoola and Cecile Emeke are exploding with so much potential as independent film makers, making a craft of their art. What I find most endearing is how much each of their productions comes from such a personal place, as if it is gutted out from within them and poured out to the world. I would encourage all to support what they are doing and follow their work.