Eaten by Lions
Following a freak accident that sees their parents’ hot air balloon crash-land in a safari park, half-brothers Omar (Antonio Aakeel) and Pete (Jack Carroll) are taken in by their Gran (Stephanie Fayerman). But when the matriarch passes away, the boys find themselves at the forefront of an identity crisis, resulting in them having to make a trip to Blackpool in order to track down Omar’s biological father, Irfan (Asim Chaudhry) and seek some home truths.
Co-written and directed by Jason Wingard, winner of the 2011 Virgin Media Shorts competition whose prize was to produce a short film alongside the BFI, Eaten by Lions is now the feature-length version of that film. Focussing on interraciality as its primary subject matter, the picture scrutinises the often xenophobic attitudes of Northerners towards immigrants who have made this nation their place of residence; while Aunt Ellen (Vicki Pepperdine) is happy to take Pete on board for adoption, she is unwilling to do the same for Omar for he is not “on our side”. As a result, the Asian is made to sleep in a cupboard underneath the staircase, much like Harry Potter, and treated like a second-class citizen.
There is, however, a shift in mood once the story moves onto Blackpool and Irfan, together with his brother, Malik (Nitin Ganatra), enters the scene, providing much of the comedic sequences required to keep the plot alive. Here, stereotypes are broken and hormones run wild, shown primarily in the film through daughter Parveen (Natalie Davies), whose rebellious streak and lustful ways go against behaviour that is normally expected within a traditional Indian household; her presence represents a more progressive and diverse mind-set with regards to South Asian cultural beliefs.
Aakeel and Carroll share undeniable screen chemistry as the two brothers, their devotion to one another proving heartwarming to watch. Despite the plot point involving Omar’s meeting of Irfan peaking too early, the brothers’ emotional connection is certainly one that keeps the baton going until the very end.
Eaten by Lions is released in select cinemas on 29th March 2019.
Watch the trailer for Eaten by Lions here: