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Exclusive interview: “Judah will not be silenced”

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INTERVIEWS: avon and somerset police, racism

Taser survivor Ras Judah Adunbi and filmmakers Bashart Malik and Zaheer Mamon are crowdfunding for a new film about racial injustice.

The Cable is backing the production of the film I AM JUDAH to the tune of £1,500. Read more on why the Cable is getting behind it.

“I’m not pulling any punches with my story,” says Easton man Ras Judah Adunbi, who was tasered by police in a case of mistaken identity in 2017. “What happened to me opened a lot of eyes. I’ve survived an electrocution and it’s done untold damage. We know that tasers cost people their lives.”

Despite the incident blowing up at the time, very little changed as a result of Ras Judah’s experience. PC Claire Boddie, the officer who discharged the taser, was found not guilty at criminal trial and in September 2018 was also cleared of misconduct. It wasn’t the first or last time Ras Judah faced police harassment.

Now a crowdfunder is underway to continue production of ‘I am Judah’, a cinematic documentary about Ras Judah’s experiences.

Director Bashart Malik, producer Zaheer Mamon, and poet Lawrence Hoo are behind the crowdfunder and want the film to show the world who Ras Judah is and the racial injustices he’s faced.

Speaking to the Cable, Ras Judah says the film “will be factual, educational, and an eye-opener to many”.

Through the film, Bashart and Zaheer say, they want the world to see who Ras Judah is. “He’s a really respected, cherished community elder. He’s been involved in engagement throughout his life: campaigned; raised funds to set up a community sports centre; acted as police relations advisor; trained kids… a lifetime of activism,” says Bashart.

 

“We want to paint an intimate portrait of what he stands for,” Zaheer adds. “We want people to feel an emotional connection. Not just around the tasering incident, but about what he’s been through in his life, which hasn’t been represented.”

The film aims to engage a wide audience and send the message that institutional racism and injustice is rife.

“We know unlawful acts have been conducted in this country and it’s been going on a long time”

“The way we have been treated by those who should know better and who are paid to protect us—police, local authority, government—it warrants exposure,” says Ras Judah. “We know unlawful acts have been conducted in this country and it’s been going on a long time.”

“It’s not about me as an individual. I’m talking about what has been going on up and down the country to other people. My story needs to go to the general public.

“As people have said to me, if you can do that to Ras Judah, then they could do that to anyone in the country.”

The film crew also want to inspire communities to come together in peaceful activism against institutional racism. They are working with the Screenology film school, who are supporting the film, to promote confidence in young filmmakers.

“I’ve already had young filmmakers who want to explore similar themes about their own experiences. That’s the action we want,” explains Bashart.

A cinematic approach

With ‘I am Judah’, Bashart, Zaheer, and Lawrence are determined to create a piece of social justice art. A film that looks like it should be in the cinema. Something that won’t just be ‘liked’, ‘shared’, and forgotten.




“It’s not your standard BBC-style documentary. It’s stylistic, artistic, as well as factual, using captivating visuals to bring across Ras Judah’s story,” says Zaheer. “It’s not about interviews with different people, you see that on TV constantly. We want to do something different.”

An independent film

Bashart, Zaheer and Ras Judah share a disillusionment with mainstream media, especially its depiction of people of colour. Bashart explains, “If you see someone with dreads, or a hijab, how someone is and how the media represent them are two different things.”

For this reason, Ras Judah has turned down offers from mainstream players.

“I’ve received offers to do documentaries – large establishments have come to me – but I’d have no control over the final editing and I’m not prepared to give my story to anyone who won’t put it out in its entirety,” he explains.

“Zaheer guaranteed that he would put the truth out. That is music to people like myself’s ears,” says Ras Judah. “I know full well others will have been happy to water my story down. That’s why I’m so appreciative that Bashart and Zaheer have a different agenda. They’re doing a wonderful job. We are the ones putting the facts on the table.”

“Editorial control is essential,” says Bashart. “Everything has to be discussed. The story is his.”

Crowdfunding to tell the whole story

Bashart and Zaheer launched the crowdfunder after realising a seed budget would not do Ras Judah’s story justice. They were initially taken aback by the scale of the project, but  were determined to tell the full story.

Ras Judah is not involved in the crowdfunder but hopes it will “ensure we have a wider impact”, and means “people can be part of the ownership”.

The script is under wraps but what we know is that the film will feature two of Ras Judah’s friends, musician Da Fuchaman as well as poet Lawrence Hoo.

Bashart and Zaheer’s enthusiasm fills the room when talking about I am Judah. “I cannot give them enough praises. I can see their drive, their commitment to the project,” says Ras Judah.

And his own drive is palpable too. “I will speak. It was my life that was at stake. My life has been given back to me. Myself, Lawrence, Bashart, and Zaheer: we are going to do something positive to draw attention to injustice,” he declares. “Judah will not be quiet.”

To support the crowdfunder, which finishes on May 17 2019, go to
chuffed.org/pay/campaign/55862

Read about the Bristol Cable’s support of I Am Judah

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Comments

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  • Sarah Thomas says:

    I tried paying to the crowdfinding but it doesnt let me put card details in

    • Zaheer says:

      Hi Sarah, thanks so much for your support, a few people are having issues with the card payment on chuffed.org. We are looking at getting a paypal link in place – in the meantime is there any chance you can try a different card to see if that makes a difference? Thanks, Zaheer

    • Zaheer says:

      Sarah – Chuffed are asking for your email to know more about the exact error message – Would you be happy to email me your contact details on iamjudahfilm@gmail.com and I’ll forward them on to Chuffed technical support…

  • D.porter says:

    I know this project will work well it’s a story that needs to be told time and time agine not to forgotten and highlight other injustices that know has been aware of, we need an outlet that will draw in the interests of communities and people of influence to newsreel these kinds of events for all to see on a national level,

  • Barbara Bloomfield says:

    I am so pleased that the Bristol Cable, which does excellent investigative journalism, is getting behind this story which cries out to be heard. Good luck to you all, Barbara

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