Drama taking on gang culture myths shot by director from Isle of Dogs

Niyi Towolawi

False Paradise was directed by 44-year-old Niyi Towolawi. - Credit: Quincy

A "heartfelt" drama exposing myths about gang culture and its threat to family life has been released online.

False Paradise was directed by Niyi Towolawi who lives in the Isle of Dogs.

The 44-year-old said: "I was attracted to this project for its rawness and authenticity in exploring the consequences of gang activities, especially on loved ones who are often forced to pick up the pieces.

"The actors, through a process of full immersion, can easily be mistaken as playing real characters.

"I wanted to capture this world in a cinematic style yet from a participant’s perspective and this influenced the visual style that attempts to place the viewer in the scene."


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False Paradise tells the story of Darren, a young black man battling to escape his past to create a stable life for his daughter Courtney after the loss of her mum.

Writer and producer Sylvia Amanquah said: "False Paradise was created out of me wanting to tell a story of inner-city street culture and the challenges young people experience.

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"Growing up, I lost a lot of friends to drugs, prison and violent deaths. This is what influenced me. I wanted to show street life does not have a positive outcome and to deter young people from going down this road.

"I wanted to show this through a heartfelt story, not the typical drug-dealing, over-exaggerated violent short films and online series which I have seen over the years."

Rashid Matabaro plays Darren, who has to prove himself to Courtney’s grandmother to gain custody of his daughter.

She believes Darren’s old lifestyle makes him incapable of looking after her, and Darren wants to prove he is responsible enough.

Pierre Wilson-Cox, Rashid Matabaro, Dwayne Lewis and Kayode Cole.

False Paradise features (left to right) Pierre Wilson-Cox, Rashid Matabaro, Dwayne Lewis and Kayode Cole. - Credit: Quincy

However, he gets caught up in a gang war between drug dealer JMoney (Dwayne Lewis), his right-hand man CJ (Kayode Cole) and rival Kane (Pierre Wilson-Cox), putting his dream of being a good dad in jeopardy.

Now in its second season, False Paradise from Hardknock Productions was filmed in neighbouring Newham and is now available to watch on YouTube.

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