By Georgia De Souza
Set in the depths of London, Sarah Gavron has portrayed the hardships, yet the beauty of the manic city in her film “Rocks”, which premiered at the 63rd BFI London Film Festival. The cast and crew, 75% of whom were female, collaborated incredibly hard to represent the true identity of the working class in London. For some, it was their first time on a set, yet they did not shy away from the initial fear but were able to provide 93 minutes of heartache, humour, and honour.
Nine-months of casting and script workshops led up to the final filming of “Rocks” as writers, Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson worked with the actresses to hone into the lifestyle of typical Londoners, creating scenes that were often improvised to tell the story of Rocks’ (Bukky Bakray) dilemma as her mother abandons her and her younger brother. Not wanting to leave her brother leads Rocks to detach herself from her friendships with Sumaya (Kosar Ali), Agnes (Ruby Stokes), Khadijah (Tawheda Begum), Yawa (Afi Okaidja) and Sabina (Anastasia Dymitrow) as she hides away from social services, however her mates only have her best interest at heart.
At first it may seem like another story of friendships and growing up, however, the representation of women of colour in the present day allows this film to become so unique. With its almost documentary style through the obvious improvisation from the cast, the film showcases the rawness of emotions for the characters.
However, these tender moments are also broken up with several comical one-liners from the little brother Emmanuel (D’angelou Osei Kissiedu), who was perfectly cast for the cheeky chap, his naivety of the situation empowering the strength of Rocks as she takes on the role of his mother.
It is simply refreshing to see a story based around the minorities in London, made by the minorities in the film industry to have been executed so effectively, and therefore is definitely a must-see at its spring 2020 release.