Ghetto Fairytale – food for thought
This short (just under 13 minutes) is written and directed by the young and talented Francesca Marie. Shot on a budget of around £2000 it premières at The Hideaway, London on October 2nd and will then go on to festivals beginning with the Brixton Film Festival from 23rd to 28th October. The film is produced by Asif Bhagwandin and Francesca Marie, and stars Francesca Marie, Reena Lalbihari, Warren Adams, and Okorie Chukwu.
The low budget for this film does not prevent it from delivering impressively. I do have one tiny gripe concerning the sound. The device of using the sound of wind on the mic in some outdoor shots to give an 'urban' feel didn't really work for me but that's a matter of personal taste and the rest is splendid. The opening scene, slightly soft focus, has a fairytale princess running bare-foot in the woods amid balloons, floating seeds and soap bubbles. Magical. From there straight into the harsh and gritty world of our everyday lives. Unusually, the film is narrated in rhyming couplets combined with some spoken dialogue which works well given that we are witnessing the fantasies of a would-be princess trapped in a tough contemporary London. From the film's description as a modern-day fairytale I was expecting a fairly standard 'rags to riches' story but that isn't, in fact, what this film is about. Apart from the “Once upon a time” opening and the “Happy ever after” closing, it bears little relation to the fairytales of our childhood. Rather it is an exploration of the most profound use of escapism. Take each and every experience of a young girl living in an impossibly hard world and transform it, as though by magic, into a thing of beauty. The utmost in the art of survival. And the saddest and most moving line of the narration “Hope was a place that was completely forbidden” is, for me, the keystone to the whole concept of the screenplay.
Having said that, all the usual fairytale characters are portrayed here. The Princess, The King, The Suitor, The Beast and so on, together with a most un-fairytale like Hannah the Prozzy played with gusto by Reena Lalbihari. The young cast all work well together with not a single weak performance. But special mention must go to Warren Adams whose consummate comedic performance as the cringingly nerdy Mr. Romantic is a joy to behold.
Just one word of caution. The dialogue and the narration are aimed firmly at a young adult generation. The gap between my age group and that of the target audience is the size of the Grand Canyon and, as a consequence, I can't pretend to understand the street slang. However that does not in the least detract from the enjoyment of this piece and at no point did I feel lost or confused. In fact both the action and the dialogue transport the viewer without the need to understand every word.
Conclusion – a refreshing concept, thoroughly entertaining and surprisingly thought provoking. Don't miss it if you get the chance.