DOCUMENTARY: Director George Amponsah’s film The Hard Stop tells the story of Mark Duggan who was shot by police in 2011
FILMED ACROSS 28 months, The Hard Stop is arguably one of the most intimate and delicately produced creative observations of the 2011 shooting of north London resident Mark Duggan.
The death would spark uprisings across the country and has now formed the basis for filmmaker George Amponsah’s latest offering set to be released in cinemas this month (Jul 15).
Amponsah told The Voice: “As a Londoner I just thought that it was something important to me because I think like a lot of people, I wanted to know why large parts of my city went up in flames in 2011 and as part of the finding out I wanted to find out the specifics of who. Who was the man whose death sparked those disturbances?”
The documentary, filmed around Broadwater Farm in Tottenham where Duggan grew up, follows the journey of two of his closest companions while capturing the arduous journey for justice embarked on by the Duggan family in the wake of his death.
Amponsah said: “I learned about him by proxy, by learning about his childhood friends, men who he grew up with, who considered him family, their brother and in many ways I felt were a reflection of him.”
Through Marcus Knox and Kurtis Henville, viewers are treated to a look at life post-riot, where Knox battles with legal troubles and Henville pursues a life on the straight and narrow.
Convincing the two men to allow cameras to document them was no simple task as the filmmaker admits that the duo were hesitant initially.
“Naturally they were very weary of anyone who they considered to be coming from the media so it took a while to gain their trust, to convey to them that I wanted to do something different to what the media does,” shared Amponsah.
The east Londoner continued: “I wasn’t there to come into their lives for an hour or so, take pictures, get a few sound bites and run off. I wanted to do something long form, which would require us filming over a lengthy period of time.
“It required for us to form a relationship built on trust and that took a while but we did get there in the end. It hasn’t always been easy for them or myself but the end results have been worth it.”
The film is a collaborative effort between Amponsah and lead producer Dionne Walker who also gave the project it’s compelling title.
“I want people to get a sense of the humanity behind the headlines that we’ve seen since 2011,” reaffirms Amponsah.
In doing this, the documentary pays careful attention to the complex racial history of the area extending back to the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985 and the tensions that persist between the black community and the police.
Amponsah believes it is crucial to understand the history of the area, especially since the deaths of Cynthia Jarrett and PC Keith Blakelock.
“I think it’s got a great deal of resonance to what happened in 2011 and what is still going on today in Tottenham and what may happen again in Tottenham and areas like it because history repeats itself if we don’t learn our lessons from it” he said.
“These men were born into that history as Marcus shows in the documentary.
“He remembers being taken from one end of Broadwater farm to the other because their side was engulfed in flames from the riots. There’s that feeling of a cycle of violence.”