This Film Shows the Reality of Life in Austerity Britain
Hull might be the UK’s City of Culture, but that doesn’t change the day-to-day lives of many of its residents.
A Northern Soul, the new documentary film directed by Sean McAllister, is about the year Hull became the City of Culture.
It’s about the political and economic policy of austerity and the hardship it has visited on working class communities in the northern city – but most of all, it’s a story about Steve Arnott, who we find living back home with his mother after the end of his second marriage. It’s also about the Beats Bus, a bus turned mobile recording studio and classroom that Steve drives around Hull, running music workshops with the city’s children (and sometimes adults).
Steve is 43 years old and has a tattoo on his neck that reads “Tear it down”, the title of his first single, under the name Redeye Feenix. He’s big and friendly and open. Over the phone, he tells me he left school aged 16 and went to work with his dad as a labourer. A professional rugby league career looked like it might be on the cards, but then Steve was run over. It took him a year-and-a-half to recover, and doctors told him he shouldn’t risk playing again.
Depressed from the fallout of the accident, Steve became the manager of an arcade, where punters could gamble. “It was awful,” he says. “Watching people losing money is not nice.” But he needed the job. At the same time, he was doing gigs and making music, trying to make things happen as an MC and a producer. Eventually, he left the arcade and got a job working in a warehouse….
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