Gangs of Birmingham
In 2013 Flatpack is exploring the gangs of Birmingham, old and new, through screenings, walking tours and discussions. Providing a chance to peak into the grim underworld of Victorian Brum, and an insight into the friction between North Birmingham's Johnson Crew and Burger Bar Boys.
One Mile Away “When people in normal society get murdered, there’s whole campaigns, there’s rewards put up. But when people in my community get murdered, it don’t even make it to the news; you’re just dead.” ~ Dylan
After making hip hop musical One Day in Handsworth, filmmaker Penny Woolcock stayed in touch with her non-professional cast and was drawn back to make a documentary about the gang culture that blights north Birmingham. One Mile Away follows the efforts of two men, Dylan Duffus (the lead in One Day) and Shabba, to negotiate some kind of pause in the postcode wars between Johnson Crew (B6) and Burger Bar Boys (B21).
The size of this task is quickly made clear, as the film sketches out the way violence has become a part of the landscape: “this is the norm now, it’s not even a bad thing to us.” Comparisons are drawn with the Northern Irish peace process, as Shabba and Dylan visit former Blair advisor Jonathan Powell, and it’s interesting to see how the 2011 riots change the dynamic. The most powerful thing about One Mile Away, though, is the insight Woolcock gets from the young men (and occasionally women) that she interviews. A side of Birmingham that many of us never get to see.
Gangs of Digbeth Later this year the BBC screen a new six-part drama by Steven Knight called Peaky Blinders, about the violent netherworld of turn-of-the-century Birmingham. Local historian Chris Upton – leader of our Odeon bus-tour back in 2010 – worked as a consultant on the series, and this walking tour is an opportunity to join him as he sketches out the battle-lines of some of the city’s most notorious gangs. Brummies, Boozers and Bruisers Join Friction Arts and local resident Ray O’Donnell for a kebab and a scuffle. As part of Friction's ongoing Echoes heritage project, we'll be hosting a short screening of archive footage and a discussion about gangs and underground Birmingham in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Full programme of events available on our main page