Short documentary directed by Ed Perkins and was commissioned by the newspaper The Guardian which has now been nominated for a Oscar in the Best Short Documentary Film category.
It is a film whose subject is a young black man who recounts his past. A past in which his family moves from London to Essex because his mother is afraid of what is happening in the big city. Afraid of the racism and violence. Especially after a young boy is murdered in 2000. So they move to a housing estate in Essex when Cornelius Walker was 11-years-old.
Being one of the only kids of colour in his school, Cornelius has a hard time. He falls victim to racism and abuse over and over again. To try and fit in with probably the worst group of racists, Cornelius goes to great lengths. He bleaches his skin, changes his accent, straightens his hair, and buys blue contacts, but that is just the beginning.
Ironically, because he mother moved their to avoid just this, the story…Cornelius’s story turns violent. The violence allows him to survive.
It is now 15 years later and Cornelius tells his story. Of what went on during that period of his life. The interviews are coupled with dramatic recreations of the events. Words and visuals together are quite a powerful combo. Amazingly brave of Cornelius to tell his story with such honesty. Hard to listen to, so it must have been hard for him to say the words. To show himself in this light. That is what makes it so important.
Important because we don’t judge Cornelius. Even if we do initially we quickly understand why he did what he did. We understand that most of us would have done the same in order to survive. That pull is strong. Human instinct. Universal. We all want desperately to be loved. To have value. To be equal. To fit in.
A story which deals with several vital issues. Things like racism, race and identity are explored. Shows how powerful they are. Highly topical.