Rocks: The movie making the film industry as diverse as the real world

  • Video report by ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar

Kosar Ali is effervescent and giggly, thoughtful and intelligent, and wants to change the film industry to make it as diverse as the worlds she lives in. 

Quite an ambition for a woman who was just 13-years-old when she made Rocks, a film that has been sweeping up awards - including for her and Bukky Bakray who plays the eponymous Rocks. 

"I never saw anyone on TV wearing a hijab like me," she tells me.

She is astonishingly good in this film, and I salute Sarah Gavron, the director whose idea and persistence brought this  film to the screen, with the help of her creative team and the teenagers themselves.

The film, about a group of young women growing up in London, seems almost like a documentary into real life. Credit: PA/Attitude Film Distribution

I have seen hundreds of films this past year, and this one sticks in the heart.

It feels at times more like a documentary - the scenes where the schoolgirls sit together and chat about ambitions, doing each other’s hair and giggling.

My teenage daughter confirms it’s the real deal.

It’s a film about friendship and hardship - the Rocks, of the title, has to look after her young brother when her mother leaves them.

Bukky Bakray tells me that looking back to scenes she witnessed at school, she now understands why some pupils go back for seconds and thirds at school dinner time, because its the only meal they are going to get that day. 

Pupils who too are charged with the care of younger siblings at far too young an age themselves.

As I interviewed both of them  - on Zoom of course in the current climate - they laughed together and shared anecdotes, you forget you are talking to two award winning actors!

What they both want to stress, they say, is young people have huge potential - kids growing up on estates in East London might never get the opportunity to use that potential because of the lack of opportunity. 

The stars of Rocks tell Nina Nannar they want to make the film industry as diverse as their lives are. Credit: PA/Attitude Film Distribution

I think we should be grateful that they were found and given a platform.

The British Independent Awards and the London Critic’s Circle agreed, they are two stars of the future.  

Now Rocks and its cast have BAFTAs in their sights - you wouldn’t bet against them.

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