2016 Los Angeles Film Festival World Premiere
Directed by Jim O’Hanlon, A Hundred Streets (2016) is a London based drama with a multiethnic cast anchored by Idris Elba. He plays Max, a star footballer estranged from his wife Emily (Gemma Atherton). When Max starts to cave in to the pressure of their separation, their story takes on overtones of the O.J. Simpson case.
Elba and Atherton supply the glamour but other characters show up from across London society. The film was shot in Chelsea, “a mixture of rich and poor,” says the director.
Also in those hundred streets, Kingsley (Franz Drameh) lives in a council flat a cab ride away from Max’s posh digs. It may as well be on another planet. He’s drawn into drug dealing and the violence that goes with it.
George (Charlie Creed-Miles) is a middle-aged cab driver, a good-natured, regular bloke. He and his wife Tina (Lorraine Stanley) have never had children. Their application to adopt is in limbo because of George’s arrest for hooliganism fifteen years earlier. That’s their main problem until something beyond their control occurs.
The movie opens with an aerial shot above London. Kingsley narrates in his East London accent, about “grim towers and hopeless kids.” We’re set up for a “mean streets” experience, but as the title implies, there’s a hundred of them, all different. As O’Hanlon said at the Q&A, when he read Leon Butler’s screenplay, he found the characters “beautifully nuanced” with “a reality to it and but also poetry . . . I’d seen a lot of London films but they all felt very similar in tone, either very ‘gangstery’ or very ‘kitchen sink.’ And this was the first script I read where you could see the whole, across three sections of London society. And having lived there a long time, I thought this really captured a number of elements of London, both good and bad. At that stage, Gemma and Idris were on board, but we didn’t have anything else.”
“Our biggest casting challenge was going to be Kingsley because we start and end with Kingsley. Kingsley brings us into the story and through the story. I always had this notion that we would come down off a shot of London, then onto the bridge and which one of these people will we follow? We could have picked any one of the twenty people on the bridge and gone off in a different direction and heard different but equally interesting stories. But, we landed on this one character, Kingsley. I thought, ‘this is going to be a challenge’ because the kid is twenty-one, yet he has this maturity. Yes, he’s selling drugs and he’s doing what we’ve seen countless youths like that do, but he’s a guy who wants to get out. Where are we going to find this twenty-one year old with a mature head on him trying to get out of the ghetto? And, lo and behold, in walked Franz Drameh.”