I am currently developing this with the writer Tracy Brabin who is adapting the story from her own novel of the same name.
This is the story of two London kids, Julienne and Beti, from the Broad-Water farm Estate in Tottenham. Born of Congolese parents and both raised and schooled in London whilst the family wait endlessly for their “Right to Remain”.
Unable to work legally for fear of deportation nor eligible for DSS benefits, Samuel their father must seek out the charity of food-banks, churches and organisations like the Medical Foundation which can offer counselling to these refugees who are often, also victims of torture.
As well as being some of the most vulnerable in our society, these children and their families not only live hand to mouth but also under the constant threat of night time home office raids, followed by weeks in detention centres, and ultimately, deportation to a country they not only fear but do not recognise as their own. By night, they fear the knock on the door, by day, government vans trawl their estate with hoardings advertising for illegal refugees to give themselves up and be deported – Welcome to Cameron’s London!
Step forward JULIENNE and BETI.
The heroic and protective teenager Julienne with her little sister Beti will take us on a journey across a London rarely advertised in the property pages of the Ham & High. We will fear for their safety, have empathy with their predicament, and we will want to see them win against all the odds. These are London kids, survivors, using their nous to keep the family from deportation by splitting up the family unit, resulting in a journey of unforeseen and dangerous consequences. This is a teenage Thelma & Louise on the Broad-Water Farm estate.
Taking it’s title and theme from a story told to them by their father Samuel, who as a young boy in the Congo saved a little girl from the rebel forces who came to their school to steal boys for child soldiers, by climbing down from the Mango Tree in which he was hiding, and giving himself up, in order to save the little girl still hiding there beside him.
This visual metaphor not only opens the picture, but will run through the film as Julienne haunted by her fathers bravery, relives the story as her own.
She must now take on the mantle, as under extreme duress on the streets of London, she searches to find her missing baby sister.
Paradise UK will wake you up to realise that whatever you may be missing in this life, you are rich beyond compare if you have the peace afforded by a safe nights sleep in your family home.