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'Corner shop' opens racism debate at ECU Film Festival


This touching film about racism, human values and morals introduces the viewer to a Pakistani corner shop. With shelves filled with basic food supplies, cigarettes and alcohol, this setting may sound familiar to many people across the UK. Director George Hamilton has created a film profoundly in touch with human feelings and the pressures found in society ; a theme even more pertinent in the context of the current economic crunch.

The film presents two characters: a shop keeper and a customer who find themselves confronted over 20p. In a debate that affects human pride and morals, both characters inspire empathy at different moments during the film. Should the shopkeeper let the customer have his cigarettes 20p cheaper? Or should the customer respect the shopkeeper’s work ethic and leave his cigarettes behind?

George Hamilton, the director of “Corner Shop” explains that this is exactly what he aimed to achieve with the film: “a story line that will make viewers question themselves and their opinions”.

The viewer is witness to a tense situation that reveals a racist attitude towards the shopkeeper, Zoheir. Despite using the word “Paki”, George Hamilton defends the idea that the customer, Danny, is not actually racist but rather he adopts a racist attitude as a last, pitiful resort to cause harm. If an overweight man had been the target of his words, he would have been called “fat”.

“This is a consequence of ignorance and fear” claims the director “as well as not being aware of what each person is going through and what they have to deal with. If we knew about each other´s backgrounds, we would act differently”.

When asked what he thinks the country needs to help overcome the problem of racism, he replies: “our society needs politicians and the media to confront these subjects honestly, otherwise the debate will only be conducted by extremists.”

The 12 minute film “Corner shop” took 2 days to shoot and cost a total of “£7,000 and a whole lot of kindness”. The idea for the story line originally came from an article about a shop in New Jersey that had experienced a similar situation. As well as this, Hamilton was also inspired by a similar event that occurred when he was 15 years old.

Future projects

The director is currently working on a feature film called “Portraits” and when asked what project he would carry out if he had no financial or technical limitations, he responds that actually working with a budget is not detrimental and on the contrary pushes actors and directors to be more creative.

He also explains that he likes to work with issues that are not black or white and it is human behavior and thoughts that inspire and motivate him as a filmmaker.

Several years of work have finally paid off and after winning the “Best European Short Film” at the ECU Film Festival, it’s clear that the message is very powerful.

Scott Hillier, the director of the festival announced that this was the most difficult selection to judge bearing in mind the incredible high standard of the films presented.

The Independent European Film Festival showed more than 101 films from 33 countries, now in it´s 7th year; it is a real showcase of what European talent has to offer.

Website: Sentinel Productions

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