The new film by a former radio DJ will take South Londoners back to the millennium night, writes Ryan Hogg.
Reggie Yates’ film Pirates follows three teenagers trying to make it from north to South London to the Twice as Nice NYE Millenium Party in 1999.
On route, the boys tackle friendship, identity and the ultimate stand-off between north and South on their journey to make it before midnight.
The film’s stars, Elliot Edusah, Reda Elazouar and Jordan Peters, each have strong ties to South London.
Mr Elazouar grew up in Battersea, Mr Peters in Peckham, while Mr Edusah moved from Stratford to study at the Brit School in Croydon at the age of 16.
Mr Edusah, who had roles in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series, 1917 and Sitting in Limbo, found his time at the Brit School and later the London School of Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) the most formative of his life.
He used the experience to build his character Cappo, who is planning to leave for university.
Mr Peters, who stayed South to study at Brit School and LAMDA in the year above Mr Edusah, the film’s themes of friendship and drifting apart hit close to home.
He said: “All my friends went to school in Lewisham and we kind of lost touch.
“It just made me reflect on how precious friendships are.”
But it all started with Mr Yates, who made his move from north to South London in the 1990s.
Yates started his broadcasting career on a north London pirate radio station called Freak FM in 1999.
He said: “My heart broke when I moved from north to South London, because I wasn’t around the same radio stations and same people.
“But then I plugged into all of the stations in South, so I went from being in love with the Y2Ks and Freaks to loving Déjà vu and Line FM and Taste FM and everything else.”
Despite this bank of subject matter through decades of musical evolution in London, it remains rare to see positive, coming-of-age movies with people of colour set in the capital, with representation mainly focused on violence and deprivation.
Mr Yates said: “It’s a rarity to have three people of colour leading a film of this scale, especially one that intends to be positive.
“I grew up like many people of my age watching coming of age films and there is something really amazing about watching something that feels similar to your experiences on the big screen.”
It’s a message that resonated with the three leads, who drew inspiration from their life, rather than comparable movies, to build a world that spoke to them.
Mr Elazouar said: “A lot of the representation on screen that we see about London, sadly a lot of them are correct.
“But Pirates is just another side to that story, there are people like the characters we play, and it speaks to the beauty of London, the beauty of friendship.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen London in this light, with these types of people at the helm.”
Mr Edusah said: “When I read Pirates I could feel the essence of a London I recognized, that I could relate to.
“I think it’s important people see three boys of colour on screen and there’s no sex, drugs, knives, or extreme violence.
“There’s a lot more to our community, there’s a big loving community, and I think what Reggie manages to portray is that even though we are from the inner city, and we are three boys of colour, we have as much chance as anyone.”
Pirates opens across London cinemas on November 26.
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.