A Northern Soul

Kicking off Doc/Fest this year is the latest work by Sean McAllister, an internationally known talent, home-grown here in Yorkshire. The film centres on Hull, McAllister’s hometown as he explores the lives of some of the people there as they try to make the best of their situations and help each other in their community. 2018 marks the year Hull achieves the City of Culture award, something that will bring a massive deal of investment and opportunity into the city – but McAllister wants to explore how, if at all, it is helping those on the outskirts.

To explore this tale McAllister meets Steve Arnott, a struggling warehouse worker trying to find the time to see his daughter and save up enough money to pay the bills. He works desperately long hours, feeling trapped with little hope to do something better.

But there is one thing he manages to achieve, his true passion – The Beats Bus, a mobile music studio that he can take to schools helping children realise there is more opportunity out there than what they can see in front of them.

Steve quickly meets and befriends a number of children who accompany him on his mission to promote broadening horizons and helping those with little options. It is this relationship with is the emotional lynchpin that holds the whole films together. The emotions are raw and unfiltered, you are seeing a real man struggle desperately to pay off his bills, keeps the bus going, make his daughter happy and not disappoint the children he began this journey with.

McAllister’s camera never feels invasive; at times it is more like a home video you would find after years of being lost. For the amount of hardship and emotion the film deals with, there is an overarching feeling of hope and joy throughout. Making the best of a bad situation is not the theme here, but laying bare what people are dealing with on a day-to-day basis and asking ourselves if this is good enough.


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