In a truly heartwarming tale, Michaela Coel and Arinzé Kene bring us new love heroes, Simone and Raymond …

Been So Long is the story of single mother Simone and recently released from prison Raymond. Their paths cross and we’re sucked into a very London tale of hope, love, and music.

Premiering at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, and currently enjoying an exclusive limited UK cinema tour, Been So Long is an important moment in British cinema. For all our discussion about reclaiming the British Black narrative on screen and stage, it’s not that Been So Long is a totally black project. The determined producers are English Amanda Jenks and mixed race Nadine Marsh Edwards. The words come from English playwright Che Walker, the direction from Thai, Tinge Krishnan. The DOP, Catherine Derry, and the men behind the music Arthur Darvill and Christopher Nicholas all English. However, there’s something about the main cast, Coel, Kene, Ronke Adekoluejo (Yvonne), Rakie Ayola (Simone’s mother) bring something different to the table.

Set in Camden, a hub of different cultures and classes, Been So Long the film and the production properly demonstrates that utopic vision of a multicultural London, where race and class don’t matter so much.

Not that it will resolve all our race issues, but one thing which strongly defines Been So Long’s specialness, is seeing Simone, with her shorn head as the leading love interest and having Raymond say to Simone, “You’re frickin’ gorgeous” and pursuing her in a way we don’t often see someone like Raymond pursuing someone who looks like Simone on screen. Even in our own Black productions…

TBB Talks spoke to Michaela and Tinge to discuss the importance of this film …