Watch powerful short film ‘JOY‘ from director Sheila Nortley and co-founders of Wall of Comedy, actors Joivan Wade & Percelle Ascott
JOY follows single Nigerian mother (Jolade Obsasola) who is raising her young son (Reece Badziokila) in inner-city London. and tries to steer him away from the lure of a life on the streets. Reflecting on how the streets often claim young men for themselves, only to spit them out in the form of prison, death, and trauma, the film warns youngsters of the devastating effect their negative life choices can have on those that love them most.
JOY is directed by Sheila Nortley (Night Shift, A Life Lesson), co-written by Igor Mongulu and actor Percelle Ascott (The Innocents, Tin Star, Dr Who), and executive produced by Joivan Wade (Doom Patrol, The First Purge), working in collaboration with Key4Life a charity which rehabilitates young men in prison or at risk of going to prison, and children caught up in knife crime. Commissioned with the support of Universal Music UK and produced by Wall of Productions, the co-producers behind viral smash hit Shiro’s Story, JOY will be presented at schools in London and Bristol this October and November 2020.
Co-producer and co-writer Igor Mongulu who makes his feature film debut with JOY bringing his personal experience of working with young people and youth offenders to this project, says: “The gang/hood story is one we’ve become all too well accustomed to from film, TV, and exposés on the rise of knife crime – the truth of the ‘ends’ is no longer a far unknown world but a stark reality that runs parallel to our daily lives. We see the shocking figures of predominantly young black men stabbed to death in the capital, but a perspective that is seldom shone a light on is how this affects those often closest to them, their mothers.”
Co-producer and co-writer Percelle Ascott, adds: “This has been a profound year that threw unprecedented challenges as we tackled the impact of a global pandemic and the global call for racial justice and equality for black people. Now more than ever, we’re responsible and accountable about how we represent the underrepresented in our community and that is often the black matriarch.”
As an African mother, director Sheila Nortley resonates with the mother’s predicament in JOY. “Many black mothers relate to the struggle of trying to keep their son whole emotionally, mentally and physically in a world where from nursery they are seen as a threat,” she says.
Joivan Wade, co-founder of Wall of Productions and producer of JOY, says: “It’s been amazing to collaborate with so much talent both behind and in front of the screen for this short, as well as working with Key4Life who are doing life-changing work with young people, and Universal Music UK who’ve supported us in bringing this project to life.”
With the number of recorded offences involving knives in England and Wales reaching 45,627 in 2019 – the highest on record – JOY was part inspired by the experiences of many of the young men that have been through Key4Life’s training programmes who’ve been involved in knife crime, risking their lives and the lives of others, and often losing friends to this tragic way of life. Former offender, Renardo Henry aka Creepa, now an emergent rap artist, who runs music workshops and is a caseworker for Key4Life’s rehabilitation programmes is one example of this.
Creepa, says: “My personal experience of being involved in knife crime led to a huge amount of suffering for myself, my family, and many people. I’ve witnessed two friends of mine die from stabbing injuries, and that made me leave that life behind and come to Key4Life, who helped me turn my life around. I truly hope JOY will provide a powerful deterrent to any youngsters tempted by the trappings of the destructive path of knife crime.”
JOY is available to stream now via Million Youth Media on YouTube