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The energy and joy of “Shabu”

It is a beautiful celebration of Black, working-class youth and supportive family and community.  75 minutes of optimism and self-confidence are captured in this documentary to be released in the UK on 7 July.


Directed by Shamira Raphaëla, and awarded Best Youth Documentary, IDFA 2021, “Shabu”, is a hilarious, endearing and indefatigably optimistic film.

It is set in the architecturally striking working-class Rotterdam neighbourhood of De Peperklip (The Paperclip), whose colourful community is driven by the charm and optimism of its 14-year-old protagonist who dreams of making it big as a musician: the good-natured, intelligent, sensitive and ingenious Shabu. A precocious teenager, Shabu isn’t doing great. After stealing and crashing his grandmother’s car – and getting a remote scolding from her via Skype – he owes her €1,200 to be paid at the end of the summer when she’s back from Suriname.

He takes on a series of odd jobs to save up the cash, but finds them boring and would much rather hang out with his best friend Jahnoa or girlfriend Stephy (although he often has a hard time choosing which).

Then, spurred on by the dog days of a sun-dappled urban summer, inspiration hits – and Shabu decides to stage a block party in order to showcase his talents as a rapper and earn back his grandmother’s trust.

For Isra Al Kassi, co-founder of Tape – the collective bringing and presenting the film to the UK – “Shamira Raphaëla’s beautiful celebration of Black, working-class youth, and supportive family and community, is a rare thing to find on film. This is exactly the kind of story that Tape is here to platform”.

“Shabu” –which also won the Grand Prix of the International Jury Generation Kplus for Best Film- has six preview screenings between July 1 and 6: at BFI Southbank, London (1 July) and Depot, Lewes (2 July) attended by Shamira Raphaëla; and GFT, Glasgow, (3 July), Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds (4 July), Watershed, Bristol (5 July) and Ritzy Picturehouse, Brixton (6 July) attended by Shabu and Shamira Raphaëla.

For the public it will be released on 7 July: ICA, London; Ritzy Picturehouse, London; Hackney Picturehouse, London; Bertha Dochouse, London; HOME, Manchester; FACT, Liverpool; Dukes at Komedia, Brighton; Tyneside, Newcastle; Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds; Showroom, Sheffield; Broadway, Nottingham; Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge; QFT, Belfast; Cameo, Edinburgh; GFT, Glasgow plus selected cinemas nationwide.

For more information click on Tape and BFI.

Information and photos supplied by Sarah Harvey.

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