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East End Film Festival: God Loves The Fighter

July 7, 2015

FestivalsFilm + EntertainmentReview | by Francesco Cerniglia

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Port of Spain. The Trinidad capital. A city where ‘one beating heart is worth more than a stack of diamonds’. Whilst boasting a tragic counterpoint statistic: a man getting shot every seventeen hours. Divided by the fat cats and the famished, God Loves The Fighter possesses a non-conformist and thrilling voice. Behind the camera through director Damian Marcano. Infront of it, the film’s distinct and philosophical narratorial vagrant King Curtis (Lou Lyons).

Lamenting the lies fed by a morally questionable government and media outlets, the multi-layered narrative splits its attention between a troubled trio, craving an escape from such troubled confines. Jobless with little sense of direction on often blood-soaked paths, Charlie’s (Muhammad Muwakil) defiance not to resort to such acts of terror is severely tested, in the presence of gun-wielding pal Stone (Abdi Waithe).

The naivity of a youthful mind seemingly justifying the severely questionable, Chicken (Zion Henry) continuously tests the nerve of his frustrated mother (Penelope Spencer), slowly resembling a carbon copy of his useless nowhere-to-be-found father. Elsewhere, we witness streetwalker Dinah (Jamie Lee Phillips) questioning her own self-worth in such a dirty profession, clinging to the belief that a higher form still loves her, despite her ‘sin’.

Likely to be susceptible to worthy comparisons with Fernando Meirelles’ City of God and Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers for its hyper-realised aesthetic, the film’s modest production is defied by Marcano’s slick and inventive direction. Occasionally diminished by a sporadic burst of minimalist music, its intended impact is often enhanced by a ferocious Freetown Collective/Q Major soundtrack, capturing the vibrant verve of a colourful yet corrupted culture.

Initially fragmented in its plotting as the film’s narrative threads interweaving in compelling fashion, God Loves The Fighter is an emotionally exhausting and excellent watch with the country’s plight encapsulated by a poignant stadium metaphor, almost willing the world to take note.

‘The true stories of the fighters go unnoticed’.

‘No fight. No spectators. Nothing.’

God Loves The Fighter has its UK premiere tonight at Rio Cinema at 6:15pm

You can consult the full programme and buy tickets on the festival’s official website

The East End Film Festival runs until July 12th

The film is also available from today on DVD and iTunes in the US, and exclusively on FilmDoo in the UK.

Darryl Griffiths