By Melissa Kasule
The Oscars haven’t latched on to the world’s love for chicken yet – neither Chicken Run or Chicken Little got a nomination.
But that may be about to change. South London Mecca Morleys is the favoured destination after a vodka-fuelled night out, kids splitting a three-chicken meal after school or for resident rats chewing the boxes.
But a short slice-of-life movie shot in a fried food franchise could change the perception – it is in the running for an Academy Award, especially being hailed by a best picture Oscar-winner.
The short’s screenwriter-director, Abraham Adeyemi, from Greenwich, has just won Best Short Narrative at the Oscar-qualifying 2020 Tribeca Film Festival for his directorial debut, No More Wings.
The short film is Abraham’s nostalgic love letter to South London, and its treasured fried chicken shops, and especially Morley’s – now 35 years old and with 19 branches, all in South London.
Oscar-winning director of Moonlight, Barry Jenkins, who also happens to be Abraham’s idol – gave the 10-minute drama his stamp of approval.
Mr Jenkins said: “Loved your short, my favourite in the competition, many blessings to you.”
Abraham said: “I’m a fan of Barry’s work and, in terms of his career and his work, it is something that I aspire to.
“Because of his tweet, all of sudden there was so much interest in No More Wings and my career.
“It was amazing he did that; he is someone I aspire to be my peer.”
The award-winning film follows two life-long friends from South London who meet at their childhood fried chicken shop at a point when they are heading in different directions.
The title is a pun on the end of a friendship – and a metaphor for changing ambitions from adolescence into adulthood.
Abraham said: “When my friend passed away it just made me quite reflective on life and happiness, and I thought to myself about the things I’ve always wanted to do.
“I just asked myself what always made you happy, and the answer was writing.
“It was something that had been playing out in my mind for years before I wrote it – in terms of imagining what it might be like for two people to meet up, what is the conversation that would take place.
“It explores what I consider to be a very important issue on young black boys and ambition, and choices that they make.”
The Birkbeck University of London graduate has led a promising career, with his plays staged at a number of prestigious British theatres and his previous short films screened at International Film Festivals.
The screenwriter bagged funding to shoot No More Wings after winning the Soho House’s global 2019 screenwriting competition – Script House.
He said: “I was just like, if there is one thing that is non-negotiable for me is that the film has to be set in Morley’s. It can’t be set anywhere else.
“More specifically the Morley’s we chose to shoot in was ironically the one I grew up going to.
“Above all, I would just like people to realise that at least where I grew up in South London – and the estate. All of that culture, the stereotypes that have been depicted for years, are not the only aspects. I’m not saying they don’t exist – that will be disingenuous,
“But to know that there are more stories that can be told from those environments.
Abraham is currently working on projects for Channel 4 and ITV studios. Watch the trailer for No More Wings here.
Pictured top: A scene from the short film
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