Back in 2011, the young life of Mark Duggan was taken at the hands of the police after a Hard Stop on the London roads of Tottenham, North London. This killing caused one of the biggest riots in British History fuelled by racist tension which dates back to at least 1985 after PC Blakelock was murdered on the Broadwater Farm Estate, the once home of these wayward youngsters
Now, 5 years later, Filmmaker George Amponsah has delivered The Hard Stop, A raw, gritty and emotionally charged documentary which observes Duggan’s closest childhood friends Marcus Knox and Kurtis Henville in the following 2 years after his death. Marcus and Kurtis take us on a life changing journey as they not only have to cope with the loss of their friend but face difficulties of their own with imprisonment and unemployment all whilst trying to get justice for their murdered friend.
This riveting story is by no means an outlet to paint Duggan or his friends as angels, it’s perfectly clear these men used to live their lives through criminal activities which earned them a fast buck which came with at a price. One in which had seen them do prison time and earn themselves a reputation, very much a product of their environment, was this the only way they knew how to live life? By the time Duggan had met his awful fate, the pair had left gang life and Broadwater Farm behind them trying to go straight and Marcus has converted to Islam.
We observe the men – still angry at the murder of Duggan at the hands of the police – as Marcus is under house arrest for his role in the starting of the riots right through to his imprisonment and subsequently his release. He doesn’t deny his involvement and takes his punishment like a man. Once released, he embarks on a new chapter in his life and becomes a mentor to young kids, including the oldest son of Duggan to steer them away from the same path. Kurtis struggles to find employment which see’s him relocate during the week to Norwich placing a strain on his marriage. The documentary does not only focus on these two men, Duggan’s family – who deserve an honourable credit for their peaceful passion – welcome in the camera’s at emotional times when they gather round Duggan’s final resting place to celebrate his life.
Duggan’s Murder and the following riots of Tottenham, as well as footage of Broadwater Farm back in 1985, are creatively covered by the use of news video coverage, taking us back and triggering the memory to remind us of these dreadful events. The Music of Duggan and the Tottenham Man Dem is heavily incorporated into the experience for an almost poignant tribute which sets the gray and despondent tones off with an overwhelming impact.
The Hard Stop is in cinemas July 15.