On a cold evening, when it is raining and has been for weeks, where does one expect young people to unite and learn as a community? What happens when the spaces designed with for such a purpose for the young to meet and practice music, dance or sports are closed because of lack of funding? Where do the young go then? Learning together is a powerful collective effort to overcome limitations imposed by a restrictive society, made worse by ableist perspectives that further restrict some people. These people are the subject of Here/Not Here, a hip-hop drama film written by Jonzi D and directed by Bim Ajadi.
A group of deaf friends meet in an abandoned building and have to accept having to share the space with other groups of young people who are also in need of a space in which to collectively perfect their art. The group overcome differences among themselves and come together in play, encouraged by movement, laughter and fun.
In this short film, we learn not just about the political and economic struggles that bring together groups of agile young people to an abandoned commercial building with the support of an understanding caretaker. We understand that the government shows absolutely no sign of taking these young people into consideration when making decisions that fundamentally affect their lives – the shortage of community centres, the closure of existing ones, and even decisions to demolish abandoned buildings occupied by the young as makeshift community centres in order to build luxury new buildings which will be inaccessible to them. The caretaker, with tears in his eyes, acts an intermediary for the iron first that has come to crush the hope of the young people built through strength, faith and love for art. Hope in the face of all the limitations which have been complicated further by socio-cultural struggles.
With poetry performances in sign language and spoken word, the film is itself a poem, where movement is language depicting a complex web of interconnected narratives while subtly hinting at deep individual tales that offer interesting tangents to reflect upon.
Here/Not Here premieres on Film4 on 11th May 2020 and is then available to view on BSL Zone.