Gang film director responds after Birmingham disturbance

By Caitlin Doherty and Alex Green, PA

The director of Blue Story has said the gang film is about “love not violence”, after seven police officers were injured in a disturbance at a screening.

Police were called to Star City in Birmingham on Saturday evening following reports of youths with machetes.

Five teenagers were arrested including a 13-year-old girl, and Vue Cinemas has confirmed that Blue Story will no longer be showing in any of its 91 outlets in the UK and Ireland.

Writer and director Andrew Onwubolu, known as Rapman, described the incident as “truly unfortunate” and said he hoped it was not an “indictment” of the film.

He also compared the violence to that which occurred during The Joker’s US screen run, where there were safety fears due to fringe calls for violence at screenings.

Onwubolu said on Instagram on Sunday afternoon: “Sending love to all those involved in yesterday’s violence at Star City in Birmingham.

“It’s truly unfortunate that a small group of people can ruin things for everybody. Bluestory is a film about love not violence.

“There were also a few incidents earlier this year with the release of The Joker, it’s always unfortunate, but I hope that the blame is placed with the individuals and not an indictment of the film itself.

“I pray that we can all learn to live with love and treat each other with tolerance and respect.”

Actor Micheal Ward (Ian West/PA)

He addressed Vue’s decision to no longer show the film, captioning the post: “#Bluestorymovie playing in all major cinema chains except @vue.”

Actor Micheal Ward, who plays Marco in Blue Story and starred in Netflix gang series Top Boy, reposted the statement onto his own social media account.

BBC Films described the film as an “outstanding, critically acclaimed debut feature which powerfully depicts the futility of gang violence.

“It’s an important film from one of the UK’s most exciting new filmmakers which we’re proud to be part of.”

The film’s distributor, Paramount Pictures, said it was “saddened” by events at Star City, but that it thinks Blue Story is “an important film” that has had “incredibly positive reaction and fantastic reviews”.

Blue Story focuses on two friends from different south London postcodes, on rival sides of a street war.

It is rated 15 for very strong language, strong violence, threat, sex, and drug misuse.

On Sunday afternoon, a pre-recorded message on the Vue customer service line said: “We regret that we will no longer be screening the film Blue Story at any of our venues.”

Although the film was still listed on the company’s website, when attempting to book tickets online, customers were met with an error message.

A Vue spokesman said: “We can confirm a decision was made to remove the film.

“The safety and welfare of our customers and staff is always our first priority.”

West Midlands Police said that they did not recommend the film was removed.

Chief Superintendent Steve Graham said: “We’ve made no recommendations to Vue at all.

“If they choose to continue showing it, that’s a matter for them.”

Meanwhile in London, six films created by young people from the city about their experiences of violence were premiered at a screening of Blue Story at Genesis Cinema, in Whitechapel on Sunday.

The “LDN Filmmakers Project” project was backed by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan as part of his work to tackle serious youth violence.

Rapman said of the scheme: “There are a wealth of young filmmakers out there with stories that need to be told.

“Now more than ever we have a platform to get those stories out there and make people sit up and listen.

“These young people are the voices and filmmakers of the future.”