JJ and the Ilford Illmanics
JJ (Joel Dommett) is new to the London music scene and he is also on the verge of a very big career. His specialty is urban outlaw rap and he has mastered the skills, can really write songs and possesses the determination he needs to become a star. There are just two problems—he is white and he is gay. He just does not fit the image that the world of hip-hop and raga is known for. Nonetheless he goes on stage at the Finals of Urban Slam and has his boyfriend, Orlando, with him. He has an idea about what to expect but did not anticipate having trouble with the ghetto rappers, Ilford Illmanics. There was a gay bashing but the three thugs that make up the Illmanics claim that JJ provoked them. Even though Orlando was beaten so badly that he was put into a state of permanent brain damage, they received a very light sentence. As the date for their release nears, the public defender and JJ and Orlando examine the group’s homophobic lyrics to decide if perhaps the music is what made them commit the crime.
Directed by Ricky Beadle-Blair, the film hits hard. He adapted the film from his stage play and it went on to win best actor and best supporting actor awards at the British Independent Film Awards in 2012. This is an urban drama that hits hard as it looks at the issues of race, sexuality and music.
We don’t get a lot of LGBT films with a strong message and Beadle-Blair dares to deal with issues that are thought about but rarely spoken of openly. His film will undoubtedly cause debate and make people think (which is always a good thing). In the film, lives were changed as each person deals with the way he sees sexuality, class and race. You will not want the film to end and when it does you are ready to see it again and again.