Saturday 10 December 2016

London riots film Urban Hymn has UK premiere in Glasgow

Published 20/02/2016 | 01:01

Shirley Henderson plays a social worker in the London riots film Urban Hymn
Shirley Henderson plays a social worker in the London riots film Urban Hymn

British director Michael Caton-Jones has described working on his new release Urban Hymn as "one of the best film making experiences I've had."

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Caton-Jones, whose films include Rob Roy and The Jackal, returned to the UK to shoot the coming of age drama set against the backdrop of the 2011 London riots.

It stars Letitia Wright as a vulnerable teenager whose loyalties are split between the care worker trying to help her secure a better future and her volatile best friend, played by Isabella Laughland.

After making its debut at the Toronto Film Festival in September, Urban Hymn received its UK premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival on Friday.

Speaking on the red carpet, Caton-Jones said it took something special for him to return to film-making almost a decade after his last feature, 2006's Basic Instinct 2.

Asked what attracted him to the project, he said: " It's always the screenplay, but it was really the stuff that was in it that I thought I could do a decent job with.

"I had three lead women of different emotional colours.

"There was a lot of music in it, and i t was about a social issue but not beating you over the head with it. It had a load of elements.

"I really felt that I didn't want to get back in the saddle making something unless it was going to be emotionally worth my while.

"I'm really glad I did because it became one of the best film making experiences I've had."

The film was shot at various locations in the capital including former prison Latchmere House in south east London and includes a cameo by musician and activist Billy Bragg and his initiative Jail Guitar Doors, which donates instruments to aid prisoners' rehabilitation.

Shirley Henderson, familiar as Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter series, plays social worker Kate who is called to work with troubled young people after suffering a loss and makes an attachment to Wright's character Jamie.

She said: "T heir worlds are very different.

"The way they see life at the beginning is very different, but ultimately it's the same - they are both looking for the same thing, to feel that they belong, that there's a reason to keep going, and that there's something more.

"It's quite an interesting journey, she is setting Jamie up for some kind of future."

Laughland said of her character's relationship with Wright's: " They are more like sisters, really.

"My character feels incredibly protective over Letitia's character Jamie. They are all they've got.

"They've never really had any love and they meet each other in the care home and they gel.

"Their relationship is everything, especially to my character."

Wright said of working on the film: " It was a lot of hard work. I realised that in order to play a lead role, you have to be there on time, every single day, and y ou have to be on it.

"It took a lot of work from all of us. I leant a lot about what it takes to really dedicate yourself to a story."

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