The Masses Documentary Short Film | Directed by Dorothy Allen-Pickard

  • Julie-Anne Vergez

The Masses is a visceral and empathetic portrayal of three South Londoners devotion to their respective religions: Islam, Christianity and Football. Premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest in June 2019. Now live on 4:3 13mn https://fourthree.boilerroom.tv/film/masses

THE MASSES tells the story of three South London neighbours, a Muslim, a Christian and a Millwall fan, who ostensibly share little in common. As we gain a deeper insight into their lives and dissect themes of identity, belief and community, it becomes clear they have much more in common than first meets the eye. It is the story of South Bermondsey and how locality provides a shared context for the men, giving them an understanding of the world and their place in it. The observational footage brings to light existing tensions around family, worship, and the challenges of belonging to individual groups as well as a multicultural society.
Director – Dorothy Allen-Pickard
Featuring – Amed, Micky, Gabriel

Executive Producer – Jamie Clark
Executive Producer (Doc Society) – Lisa Marie Russo
Producer – Julie Vergez & Aleksandra Bilic
Associate Producer – Jenny Broad
Production Assistants – Fraser Thorne, Stanley Brock

Cinematographer – Mike Simpson
Additional Cinematography – Jack Wells
Focus Puller – Matt Farrant
Assistant Camera – Michael Hobdell, Jonnie Haldon, Leon Frind
Sound Recordists – Don Nelson, Adina Istrate, Mia Zur-Szpiro, Ollie Drummond, Ben Hauke

Editor – Rhiannon Mayor
Colourist – Myles Bevan @ Time Based Arts

Production Company – My Accomplice

Made with the support of the BFI Doc Society Fund
Doc Society Director – Sandra Whipham
Business Affairs Executive – Christine Howard
Production Manager – Hannah Bush Bailey
Film Fund Officer – Lynn Nwokorie

Thanks to Baitul Aziz Islamic Cultural Centre and Imam Mohammed, Christ Apostolic Church Surrey Docks District, Millwall Football Club and Billy Taylor and Sammy Brough, Millwall Cafe and Alan
Words by Dorothy.

"Growing up in South-East London, I have always been surrounded by different cultures, religions, and football fans. While the language of football didn’t mean much to me, I understood it metaphorically, as a way for fans to relate to one another. Like religion, it’s a culture that helps to create a sense of place, history, and belonging. But right now these cultures are under threat and each group’s sense of belonging to South-East London is challenged. The right-wing media encourages marginalised groups to blame each other for social issues, such as shortage of housing and state resources, and little is being done to demonstrate what these groups may have in common. Football and religion can help give meaning to people’s lives, however this tribalism can also create fractures that draw them apart. If marginalised groups could identify with each other across distinctions of colour and creed, they would be a force to be reckoned with, one that could truly challenge political scapegoating, populism and the far-right. Rather than replicate the toxic narratives of the media that focus on difference, I aim to explore and demonstrate how, as the MP Jo Cox, murdered in 2016 by a far-right extremist had stated, ‘WE ARE FAR MORE UNITED AND HAVE FAR MORE IN COMMON THAN THAT WHICH DIVIDES US.’

Particularly given the urgent context of the refugee crisis it is essential that we celebrate our differences and similarities. One thing the men have in common is that their communities and architectural centres are all threatened by gentrification and rising xenophobia. If these three men can understand each other’s perspectives, what’s to say it can’t happen on a larger scale?"

Here are a few statistics that outline just how urgent this film is: Two in five Americans say Islam 'is incompatible with US values' (Al Jazeera); Religious hate crime has risen 40% in England and Wales in the past year – with more than half directed at Muslims (Independent); 76% of Muslim respondents feel strongly attached to the country they live in (European Islamophobia Report); London temporary housing costs are up 50% in 10 years, and over 31,000 residents will be affected by the city’s regeneration in next decade (BBC); The £2bn regeneration project known as New Bermondsey threatens to demolish Millwall FC’s stadium (Guardian); There’s been a 22% increase in reports of racism among UK football fans in the past year (Kick it Out).