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AN INTERVIEW WITH THE VOICE OF BLACK BRITISH CINEMA

By Ishmahil Blagrove, Jr.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010.



R
ice'n'Peas magazine's publisher and award-winning documentary film producer Ishmahil Blagrove, Jr., talks to film-maker Shango B'Song, about his feature length, action adventure thriller, 'Quiet Storm'.  A hard-hitting film about four Black extremists on a mission to correct some of the political and economic injustices affecting African people.

Quiet Storm is a very ambitious film. Give us a brief synopsis of it and your motivations behind making it?

Quiet Storm is a film about four Black men on a mission to correct some of the political and economic injustices affecting African people. To do this, they go after corrupt African leaders and their powerful western patrons who have misappropriated Africa’s wealth and in so doing, have sentenced her people to lives of misery.

Quiet Storm, for me, was a film that showed us taking active steps to resolve some of the problems affecting our people.  It placed four Black men on an equal intellectual and political footing with our oppressors.  The lead characters indicted, judged and executed those who, in their view, were responsible for committing genocide on our people.  Secondly, we wanted to use the film to raise funds for some organisations that were taking pro-active steps to resolving some of the problems that affect our people.

It was touted as the UK's first independent Black feature film; does that claim hold true?

Quiet Storm was promoted as the UK’S first Black major action thriller independent feature film.  Considering the fact that we had a cast of 148 speaking actors and an additional 100 extras shot in over 52 locations, scenes with helicopter crashes and extended CGI work, and all totally independently Black-funded, I would probably say yes.  We have not misrepresented the film in claiming that it was the first independent Black feature film.  

To sustain one’s independence is extremely difficult, especially if you do not have effective distribution outlets; is this particularly true for Black independents?

Yes.  Especially so with Black independents because you are dealing with organisations and institutions that have a die-hard interest in making sure that what happened with the proliferation of the music industry that saw a lot of Black independent labels flooding in and near taking over does not happen in film and television

What were the biggest obstacles you faced?

Trying to exhibit the film in cinemas.

How has the film been received, in particular by the Black audiences at which it was aimed?

I would say that 98% of the audience that saw the film got it.  And usually applauded at the end of every screening.  However, because Quiet Storm was also a film that challenged Black leaders to take actions and steps beyond the regular rhetorical jargons and copycat speeches, there have been those who feel particularly offended, and my advice to those individuals has always been, “If the hat fits then you need to check yourself.”

What support is out there for Black independents like yourself?

None but self-determination and the good will and assistance of a very, very few good brothers and sisters.

Your name has been linked to the fiasco which embroiled Lee Jasper, the advisor to the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, and resulted in his resignation; do you care to shed any light on the matter?

I know little or nothing about Lee Jasper as a public servant or private individual and that is why, when some media organisation approached us and offered us money to get involved in divisive plots, we said ‘No comments,’ especially after realising that the media’s intentions were not at all about Lee Jasper, but about getting rid of one of the first mayors to publicly apologize for the enslavement of African people, invest heavily in social and economic welfare programs that benefited and was supposed to benefit a lot more in the Black community, especially Black youths, and raised the international status of London as a truly diverse city


What are you up to now and where do you see the future of Black independent film-making in Britain?

Total self-determination and development on both ends.

Quiet Storm can be purchased from www.abenifoundation.org

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