Since the advent of Media City and the ubiquity of film crews scouring the city for suitable locations, you no longer go more than a few weeks without seeing a production company cordoning off their chosen space. Often, though, these locations are irrelevant to the plot and are more likely selected for convenience. The sense of place is a minor afterthought and they are more geared towards the atmosphere, which could be transferable from city to city.

Chorlton-based Newfound Planet Films’ debut feature length film, Brothers’ Day, has two central starting points with this city’s grubby history of gun crime at its core: its relevance to Manchester and its warning message embedded within the tale.

Injected with a healthy stylistic dosage of Noel Clarke’s Kidulthood and Adulthood, Brothers’ Day transplants a similarly tragic scenario of inner city gang culture and its appeal to disenfranchised teenagers who see a glamorous side to the paths walked by elder siblings or friends. The elder brother in this case, Ryan Jackson (Lewis Fletcher), offers an equivalent to the mannerisms and demeanour of the aforementioned Clarke, carrying the same public bravado coupled with private self-doubt. Tom Collins plays the corruptible younger brother, Chris Jackson, who himself could have been modelled on Adam Deacon’s Kidulthood character.

For anyone who knows their city, the film partly becomes a sightseeing trip, calling in at the streets of Ancoats, driving through pre-Manchester Metropolitan University complex Hulme, chasing on foot down Rusholme’s Curry Mile and using Withington’s Old Moat Park as a meeting point.

As low-budget films go, the acting is generally tidy and the camerawork varied, but there are moments when its lack of slickness seeps through. Punches are thrown with sound effects similar to the 60s comic capers of Batman and Robin, and they were unable to cut out revving car engines protruding nearby their Old Moat shots. That said, the overall editing is neatly packaged with time-lapse photography acting as segues and well-placed split screens for phone calls and concurrent action sequences.

Even if some aspects of the storyline and characters’ decisions seem unfeasible, the film deserves its plaudits from youth workers in the area. Patsy McKie, who founded Mothers Against Violence, said, “It shows the reality of what goes on today,” she said, adding that it “made me really think about how people’s actions deeply affect their families. Their siblings see what they have and they want it too.”

Indeed, Brothers’ Day producer and Newfound Planet Films co-founder, Gemma Bradley, said, “Director Angel Delgado has worked hard on the film for the past four years because he believes the message is very important to stop kids getting involved in drugs and guns that will destroy their lives.”

One aspect that does stand out is its collaboration with some of Manchester’s young musicians to forge a soundtrack that enhances the drama by building tension and, at times, offering context in its lyrics. Artists including Remi Hanse (aka Reminis), Stephen Mitchell (aka Stainless), Sakinah May, Jo Palmer and Felipe Ayres were commissioned to write songs specifically relating to the film and their own experiences of growing up in the area.

They set the tone and propel the story onwards where it would perhaps be flat without, as the unfolding events depict how following the wrong pied piper can lead you astray.

Brothers’ Day premiers with three screenings at Moston cinema on 6, 7 and 8 February.
brothersdayfilm.com

Ian pennington