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Blue Story is the tale of two friends who become rivals

A second cinema chain has pulled the gang-themed film Blue Story after seven police officers were injured during a brawl at an entertainment complex.

It comes after youths reportedly with machetes, sparked a police operation at the Star City multiplex in Birmingham.

Vue has banned the film from its 91 UK and Ireland venues and Showcase has also dropped the movie.

The move has prompted a backlash on social media with some labelling the ban as “racist”.

Five teenagers including a girl, 13, were arrested in connection with the disturbance, which involved up to 100 young people in a public area of the multiplex, on Saturday night.

In a statement, Vue said the film opened in 60 of its sites across the UK and Ireland on Friday.

“But during the first 24 hours of the film over 25 significant incidents were reported and escalated to senior management in 16 separate cinemas,” it said.

“This is the biggest number we have ever seen for any film in a such a short time frame.”

‘Sending love’

The Odeon chain says it is not withdrawing the film, but “a number of security measures are in place” for Blue Story screenings, though it refused to elaborate on what they are.

The film’s writer and director, Andrew Onwubolu, said Saturday’s disturbance in Birmingham was “truly unfortunate” and he hoped it was not an “indictment” of the movie.

In an Instagram post on Sunday, the rapper-turned-filmmaker wrote: “Sending love to all those involved in yesterday’s violence at Star City in Birmingham.

“It’s truly unfortunate that a small group of people can ruin things for everybody.

“Blue Story is a film about love not violence.


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BBC Films, Paramount Pictures

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The film’s writer and director said it is about love not violence

“I hope that the blame is placed with the individuals and not an indictment of the film itself.

“I pray that we can all learn to live with love and treat each other with tolerance and respect.”


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BBC Films and Paramount Pictures

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The film was released last Friday

The Vue chain has stressed the decision to pull the film was prompted only because of the risk of further violent incidents.

“This decision is not, as some have alleged, based on biased assumptions or concern about the content of the film itself,” it said.

On Saturday, West Midlands Police officers drew Tasers and used a dispersal order to clear the venue.

Footage from inside the multiplex appeared to show fights and people on the floor screaming.

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Andrew Onwubolu, known as Rapman, wrote and directed the film

The five teenagers – two girls aged 13 and 14 and three 14-year-old boys – have all now been bailed alongside a 19-year-old man.

Four were held on suspicion of assaulting police and one of the boys was detained on suspicion of obstructing police.


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Twitter

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A group of youths, one of whom was carrying a machete, were caught on camera

Another of the boys was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder after an image circulated on social media showing a number of youths, with one carrying a machete.

West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson, said the unrest was “very worrying and very disturbing”.

“Some of these children were so young,” he said. “I think parents have a role if they see those sorts of [weapons] in the home, to discipline their own children.”

The teenagers’ bail conditions ban them from leaving home at night, as well as from Star City and any cinema in the UK, police said.

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Witness Rachael Allison was at the Birmingham Star City complex when a brawl broke out

Announcing it was following Vue in cancelling all screenings, Showcase said: “Due to the recent incidents tied to screenings of the film Blue Story, after careful consideration with the film’s distributor, Showcase Cinemas has immediately removed the film from all of our participating cinemas.

“Any guests that have purchased tickets in advance can receive a full refund at the cinema box office. We remain in discussions with the distributor with regards to the possibility of reintroducing the film in due course.

“We apologise for any inconvenience but guest safety remains our top priority.”

Blue Story

Blue Story, which was developed from a YouTube mini-series, follows the life of Timmy who lives in Lewisham but goes to school in Peckham – two parts of south-east London that have a notorious rivalry.

“That part of it was based on my life – it made my school experience very difficult,” director Onwubolu told Radio 1 Newsbeat.

He said he wanted the audience to see past crime statistics and headlines about knife crime, to understand how a “good kid” can lose their way.

“They didn’t come from child abuse or neglectful mothers. What kids go through in the school playground is so intense, it all starts there.”


Image copyright
BBC Films, Paramount Pictures

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The film was developed from a YouTube mini-series

BBC Films, which developed and co-financed the film, said it was an “outstanding, critically acclaimed debut feature which powerfully depicts the futility of gang violence”.

“It’s an important film from one of the UK’s most exciting new filmmakers which we’re proud to be part of,” it added.

Distributor Paramount Pictures said it was “saddened” by events at Star City but said the movie had had an “incredibly positive reaction and fantastic reviews”.


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Other

However Errol Lawson, a reformed gangster from Birmingham, said the film was “stirring up” violence.

“The spirit behind it is stirring up this undercurrent, or supporting or fuelling this undercurrent, this narrative of violence, youth violence and disregard for life,” he said.

West Midlands Police has not ask for or recommended the film be pulled following Saturday’s violence.

Ch Supt Steve Graham said: “I understand there is a lot of speculation on social media and people are citing that film.

“At this stage we are not jumping to any conclusions. That will form part of our investigations as it carries on.”

Police were called to the complex, in Nechells, at about 17:30 GMT and cleared the area by 21:00. The officers hurt during the disorder suffered minor facial injuries.

Supt Ian Green said: “This was a major outbreak of trouble which left families who were just trying to enjoy a night out at the cinema understandably frightened.

“We worked quickly to move the crowds on, but were met with a very hostile response and officers had to draw Tasers to restore order.

“It’s clear that some of those who went to Star City were intent on causing trouble.”

In Sheffield on Sunday evening, there was an increased police presence around Centertainment on Broughton Lane ahead of the showing of the film after disorder was reported outside the Cineworld within the complex on Saturday.

“Officers carried out patrols of the area to ensure everyone’s safety,” officers said in a statement, adding that they will “be liaising with Cineworld over the coming week to discuss further screenings of this film”.

Cineworld has confirmed that it will not be pulling the film.

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Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk

 

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