London filmmaker Shola Amoo: ‘Gentrification could make the city super-elitist – but we’re all complicit’

Jennifer ruby
Fighting gentrification: Shola Amoo's new film is about gentrification in Brixton: Jack Taylor

London filmmaker Shola Amoo has claimed that gentrification could make the city ‘super-elitist’ and accessible only to the wealthy, but admitted that he is ‘complicit’.

The British-Nigerian director’s feature debut, A Moving Image, is a part-fictionalised account of the current regeneration of Brixton, which asks Londoners to question their own involvement in gentrification.

“There are a lot of feelings about London; how expensive it’s becoming, the housing crisis and stuff like that and I think at some point there’s going to have to be a reckoning,” he told the Standard.

“There’s a real sense among Londoners, the ones I know anyway, that they don’t want the city to become this wealthy, super elitist space. If that’s going to be prevented, there needs to be some kind of reckoning with the powers that be because that’s, ostensibly, where it seems to be heading.”

His film follows young woman Nina, played by Tanya Fear, who tries to make sense of her identity through a visual art project about Brixton’s regeneration, having returned to the area after years spent in trendy east London.

Set against the backdrop of the 2015 Reclaim Brixton protests, Nina grapples with the fact that she’s part of the problem as well as trying to be part of the solution.

The similarity of his own situation isn’t lost on Amoo, who admitted to having to face up to the same moral struggles and acknowledge his own ‘complicity’.


“It really comes down to the core point of the film which is complicity – one’s own complicity in the process,” he said.

“I’m not anti-change, I think change is inevitable. I don’t know, there’s a question mark though over whether gentrification is and the nature of that change.

“There needs to be almost an enquiry into how we’re going to solve it because right now I don’t see many answers in that sense.”

Amoo, 32, who resides in Elephant and Castle, said that his film is about asking questions rather than answering them and is hoping to spark conversation among Londoners.

He said: “I think that’s why the film doesn’t try to provide any answers because it’s not for me to say what the answers are. I think the film poses questions and is more comfortable doing that then trying to solve gentrification.

“I didn’t want to simplify this discussion. It’s super complex, it’s super nuanced, so enabling a space where there are all of these viewpoints and allowing the audience to pick at the different arguments and ideas and form their own opinions was the key.”

A Moving Image is in cinemas on April 28.

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