A hard hitting and powerful drama about a mother and her teenage son who is groomed into a lethal nationwide drug selling enterprise which exploits vulnerable children and traffics them across Britain.
Tyler Hughes, aged 14, has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He attends a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in East London where he is bullied by his brutish classmates. At home he cares for his younger sister while his mother, Toni, who works nights, is neglectful and preoccupied.
One day, Tyler is rescued from bullies by Simon – a “recruiter” who targets and grooms vulnerable children to promote his drug dealing enterprise out of town. Simon’s allure is strong for Tyler, who quickly finds himself working for Simon, running “County Lines” trips out of town and completely out of his depth. At home his mother chooses not to question the source of the cash Tyler starts to bring home, as she has lost her job and is in dire need of it.
Events escalate as Tyler becomes increasingly brutalised and damaged by the world he has been sucked into, and estranged from his mother and sister. Matters come to a head when Tyler is sent by Simon out of town, savagely attacked by a rival gang, his drugs and money stolen, and left for dead in a remote marshland. Soon after Simon comes knocking at Toni’s door in search of compensation, threatening her and her daughter. Toni is now fully awake to the horrors her son has been victim to, she finds her strength and resolves to rescue him from it. Tyler’s wounds eventually heal but he remains deeply traumatised. Toni’s support helps Tyler break through and the family finally comes together.
The film highlights the growing national crisis of ‘County Lines’ and the serious threat it poses to Britain’s children. Writer/director Henry Blake has been working with survivors of this phenomenon for a number of years and the film is inspired by the stories he has come across.
Stuart Brown, BFI head of Programme and Acquisitions, says “seeing ‘County Lines’ at the BFI London Film Festival was a deeply emotional experience. Made with rare sensitivity, this is an important film that epitomises everything that the BFI believes in and stands for, cinema is an art form that has real emotive power, that makes us feel something and most crucially makes us think about what is happening in our society.”
“Combining a vivid, empathetic approach to his working-class characters and milieu, a good eye and a thriller master’s ability to unsettle, Blake offers up a short, sharp jab to the national conscience.”
Demetrious Matheou, Screen Daily
“Henry Blake impresses with a realistic, gritty and caustic drama brimming with humanity, an excellent feature debut that leaves us wanting more.”
Cristobal Soage, Cineuropa
“It is an uncompromising and searing depiction of county lines that has depth and, most importantly, integrity….County lines affects us all and this film needs to be seen.”
John Cooper, The Times.
Directed by Turner nominated artist Catherine Yass, this short film depicts a grand piano suspended by a crane, floating in a circle high above the BBC Television centre, it’s former iconic site in West London. The circular structure of the TV Centre embraced the world and reached out to it, with the BBC aspiring to be a global voice. It also looked inward, suggesting the BBC as ‘the living room of the nation’.
‘The piano in some way stands for the Arts which the BBC does so much to promote, and for the freedom of expression which is so fundamental to the BBC and needs to be defended at all costs. Over the BBC TV Centre the sound of wind playing in the strings is ethereal and otherworldly. It is disembodied, fragile and vulnerable, singing a swan song to the departed BBC below.’ – Catherine Yass
Brighton May 1940: it is a year of unbearable tension as the city braces itself for imminent enemy invasion by sea and Evelyn Beaumont’s respectable life is about to change irrevocably. Evelyn’s husband, Geoffrey, has been made Superintendent of the enemy alien camp and one of his internees is Otto Gottlieb, a ‘degenerate’ German-Jewish painter who will open Evelyn’s eyes to all that is wrong in her world…
Simmering with tension, resentment and unexpressed passion, Unexploded is based on Alison McLeod’s 2013 novel by the same name and is adapted by screenwriter and playwright Hannah Patterson in to a major 3-part TV series.. Unexploded will explore the xenophobia, fear and heightened reality unleashed during a time of national crisis. Set against an incongruously sunny Brighton backdrop, a cast of unforgettable characters are out maneuvered by fate resulting in a shocking and heart-breaking denouement.
Gus and son
Official Selection Sao Paolo ISFF 2017
Gus Ferguson runs a tree felling business with his only son, Travis. Neither of the men are happy in their work or with each other. Over the course of a two-day job Gus must face the devastating truth that the family business is failing and why Travis is so desperate to take control.
Written & Directed by Henry Blake, Starring David Hayman (Taboo, Macbeth, Sid & Nancy) and Anthony Barton. Produced by Anthony Barton, Victoria Bavister and David Broder. Shot on 35mm.