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Year of release: 1998

Directed by: Julian Henriques

United Kingdom

Anita is a 'babymother', raising two children with the help of her mother Edith on a rundown estate in north-west London. Byron, her babies' father and a local reggae star, casually invites her to perform in his show, but doesn't follow up the offer. Frustrated, Anita sets up her own act with friends Sharon and Yvette. When Byron turns up to apologise, she rebuffs him. Anita's first performance at a party goes well until Byron arrives with Anita's rival Dionne, who fights with Anita.

When Edith suddenly dies, Anita guesses correctly that her 'sister' Rose is her real mother. Still hoping to be a reggae star, Anita asks Rose for money to cut a record but Rose refuses. Anita then reluctantly agrees to a 'date' with Sharon's boyfriend Caesar in return for free studio time, but he reneges on the agreement. Later, Anita takes Byron's money while he's sleeping and heads for the studio.

Promoter Bee offers Anita and her friends a spot in a competition against Byron's promoter Luther. To thwart Anita's ambitions, Byron - furious after finding out about Anita and Caesar - agrees to perform on Bee's side at the competition and Anita and her friend are dropped. Anita persuades Luther to let her perform on his side, and they beat Byron.

(Synopsis from BFI Screenonline

This black British musical, set in the black neighbourhoods and dance halls of Harlesden, North London, is arguably more interested in the reggae music scene and black urban youth culture than in family issues. However, the portrayal of black single mothers who are left to raise their children on their own or rely on their mother's/grandmother's help is a stereotypical black family constellation (and one that converges with statistical evidence). The film conjoins its two thematic concerns since Anita's song in the competition that ears her the title of queen of the dance hall is an invocation to mothers to raise their own kids, no matter what difficulties they face. 

Cf. BFI Screenonline for further details and film clips.

Internet Movie Database

Filed under: Black British | Daughters | Mothers | Secrets

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