A Critique of My Day with Ibrahim Miiro & Hannah Laresa Smith.

Written by Matteo Sedazzari
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My Day, the first feature film from South London short film director and screenwriter, Ibrahim Miiro, is a poignant story of a homeless teenager, Ally, who is caught up in the vicious circle of drug dealing in and around a variety of council estates in London.

The London locations are never revealed, yet this does not defer in the slightest from the plot, of the struggle and danger that the naïve yet tough Ally faces in a corrupt and treacherous environment, daily. Where true friendship is certainly hard to find, but not impossible.

Ally, skilfully played by Hannah Laresa Smith (On Order and Away, Wrecking Ball), understands her character, ‘I think Ally is a kind soul. Gullible, but kind. I always thought of her having a bit of an attitude problem before becoming homeless which had been completely stripped away through the harsh reality of life on the streets. She has a lot of demons in her past but had a certain charm to make friends in any situation. And although she was forced into some situations, she never dropped her pride for certain things which I admired a lot about her character.’

As Ally’s unsettling story unfolds, we, the viewers are drawn into the darker side of life, where one unpaid debt can bring serious consequences. ‘It was important to us that the story is not afraid to go to dark places. All our research dictated that in order to stay true to the material, we could not sanitise too much, but as with most projects that deal with dark and sensitive subjects, the hardest part is always the research into true-life events for inspiration’, states Miiro on the dark nature of My Day.

The realistic and gritty style and narrative of My Day gives the film a pseudo-documentary feel, which is reminiscent of the British New Wave films of the late 50s and early 60s, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, with a tad of Ken Loach’s Riff Raff. ‘I am not sure it is fair, but I will take that comparison. Riff Raff is a great film in all respects. I am a big fan of Ken Loach, his work, and his approach to making films. I like to tell stories about the dark side of the world, inevitably this leads to stories about people struggling to survive the daily grind of life and what the world feels like from that perspective.’, says a humble Ibrahim Miiro.

Ally’s fight in life is given some respite as there’s the love interest from Kevin (Karl Jackson, Murdered by My Boyfriend, Casualty), a local lad, with a yearning to break free from the world of drug dealing and to take Ally with him. Yet the little girl lost is confused with the prospect of having a caring boyfriend, ‘I really wanted to reinforce the fact that Ally is still a 16-year-old girl. This is already a tricky and challenging age, let alone when in a situation like Ally’s. She would still experience the giddy moments when it comes to someone she fancies and would still be experiencing the hormones of a 16-year-old yet had to almost suppress that sometimes to mature beyond her years.’, says Laresa Smith on the love aspect of My Day. Then there is Frank, a kindly yet ill pensioner who befriends Ally when he sees her dropping off drugs around his neighbourhood. Frank has no ulterior motive other than to be a friend, if not a father figure to Ally.

Ibrahim Miiro.

Frank is played by Mike Kinsey, who will be familiar to the baby boom generation, as Kinsey played Gunner 'Nosher' Evans from It Ain't Half Hot Mum, the soldier that was always eating with his mouth full. How did Ibrahim Miiro manage to get Kinsey out of retirement, as he has not appeared in a film or TV show since the 90s, ‘After reading the script, Mike really understood Frank and we had a great time developing the character. Throughout the process, Mike was generous with his knowledge and experience’.

So, did developing the characters in My Day originate from improvisations? ‘Yes and No. We spent several months working on character development, trying different ideas for all the characters. By the time we started production the script had evolved which allowed the actors room for improvisation. Although in most cases these were ideas we had already worked through or discussed’, declares Miiro on the matter.

Furthermore, Frank not only offers the hand of friendship to Ally, but he is also a beacon of light, ‘It was important throughout the film, that all is never lost, no matter how dark it feels in your world. This came out of the research. We discovered that when people were living this type of life the hope that a change will come for the better, was a strong goal to aim for. In some cases, the only thing they had to hold on to. Life can and does change for the better’, asserts Miiro on the optimistic aspect of My Day.

The themes of My Day, homelessness, drug addiction, and dealing, and modern-day slavery, are unfortunately dangers faced by people, from cities to villages across the world, with the elderly and young people being the most vulnerable. Maybe for the younger generation, My Day would be an ideal play to tour schools and colleges within the UK. ‘Touring around schools would be a great idea! My only fear would be that a lot of the ‘gritty’ and harsh realities may get muted along the way, which would be a real shame as the true message lies within the raw, unmuted scenarios. So, I guess it would all depend on the high schools' ethos of what they are willing to represent to their students. But I think addressing these topics in schools is vital. Overall, awareness, empathy, and understanding would be a brilliant first step towards truly supporting the homeless community’, proclaims Laresa Smith.

The poignant storytelling of Miiro and the authentic acting of Hannah Laresa Smith is a raw force of nature, who have previously collaborated on a short film a few years back. Furthermore, it seems that it is an association that will grow as there is a great deal of mutual respect, ‘Ibby (Ibrahim) created a great working environment for both cast and crew. I always felt at ease with Ibby and continue to have a fab working relationship/friendship with him’, says Hannah Laresa Smith on Ibrahim Miiro. Miiro is equally complimentary, ‘Hannah is a patient and hardworking actor, Hannah has an ability to dig the emotional core and motivation of a character and understands how to use this to maximum effect in every scene, which makes working with her a joy and a great learning experience.’

My Day is not a feel-good factor film for lockdown, nor does it perceive to be. It is a realistic film with some elements of a British thriller about the dangers of living on the streets of London. A low budget slow burner that is worth the view as it will remind you, lockdown or not, there is regrettably still suffering and exploiting in abundance, yet there is still hope, and there always will be

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 My Day is Out Now on Digital Platforms

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Read 871 times Last modified on Tuesday, 08 December 2020 12:29
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Matteo Sedazzari

Matteo Sedazzari

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