Photo: Simone Rudolphi
What happens when a Muslim city councillor, a key figure in the English Defence League and a member of ANTIFA have a meal together?
In 2015 North East filmmaker David Kenny picked up his camera and set out on an unusual project. Having become frustrated at the political and social divisions in UK society, at increasing anti-Islamic sentiments and at more and more media reports of civic unrest, David wanted to try and understand how the opposing views in Britain’s communities might be better articulated and understood. Rather than left and right wing taking to the streets was there another way for opinions to be conveyed?
To answer this question, David invited three people with disparate and opposing societal views to dinner.
Newcastle Muslim Labour Councillor Dipu Ahad, English Defence League member John Banks, and Rob Sands, a member of ANTIFA, all met for the first time in a restaurant in Cumbria, and the resulting documentary, IS NOT ONE WAY, shows what happened that night.
Before making the film, with such a challenging and far-reaching project, David knew the result would offer different answers than purely seeking a response to anti-Muslim sentiment.
“I know that it would be naive to expect any solution to such a huge social issue so my intention was to try and encourage Rob, Dipu and John to better understand one another as people, and to begin to respect one another’s views by the time they had finished their desserts.”
The resulting film is a thought-provoking insight into the mindset of our three subjects and in a way offers its own insight into a fragmented Britain. David says:
“I’m really happy to have undertaken this experiment and with how it has turned out. John, Rob and Dipu were all amazing to have dedicated themselves so fully to the film, and they were all really open and honest. The three have met again since and whilst they will never relate to their differing worlds, they all now have a better understanding of each another’s situations.”
Understanding that the idea of screening a film about societal unrest might make some cinema managers cautious, since completing the film; David has been carefully preparing for a UK cinema tour, going so far as to screen It Is Not One Way in London in a private showing for political and film journalists. He now feels he is ready to unveil his film, with the first public screening taking place at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema on Tuesday 26th February at 6.30pm.
Director of Film Programme at Tyneside Cinema, Andrew Simpson says:
“I was very keen to bring It Is Not One Way to Tyneside Cinema as part of our Frontline series of films. Frontline is all about taking issues or subjects that matter to people now, and starting a conversation which is driven by cinema, and within the cinema space. In this film, David Kenny does exactly that – it perfectly embodies what we are trying to achieve with our Frontline programme. I anticipate a lively discussion after the screening too!”
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion to discuss whether ‘swapping demonstration for dinner’ is a practical option. The panel will include Peter Hopkins (Professor for Social Geography from Newcastle University), Tony Dowling (Chair, People’s Assembly North East & local anti-fascist) and David himself. It is chaired by Richard Moss, the BBC’s Political Editor for North East and Cumbria.
“I’m thrilled to be able to screen It Is Not One Way in the north east. After this screening, I have plans to take the film to other cinemas in the UK during 2019. The release of the film has been supported by over 100 people via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, and it will be really interesting to meet the people who supported it – whatever their perspective. I’m expecting a healthy debate, and I really want to hear what the audience think of our project.”
Tickets for IT IS NOT ONE WAY (recommended as 15+) can be bought in person from the Tyneside Cinema Box Office, online at www.tynesidecinema.co.uk/film-and-events/view/frontline-9-it-not-one-wayor by calling the cinema on 0191 227 5500.
Anyone wishing to find out more about David’s film can see more at www.itisnotoneway.com