Special shine: Aml Ameen | Houston Press

Recently, we came across the streaming services for holiday movies and came across a remarkable new entry, the British holiday romantic comedy Boxing Day. The film is included The holidays and Actually love i nichegenren, men Boxing Day is also a unique celebration of black British culture. Streams on Amazon Prime and is billed as the first true black British rom-com. We asked Aml Ameen, the film’s author, director and star, about this achievement and the key role that music plays in the film for our Particular Brilliance series.

“Oh god, I’m so glad we’re talking about music. I’m a really big music lover, and music is so important to this film,” Ameen said.

We asked if there is a single song of particular relevance in his life, one that has driven him to career highlights in the box office such as. Maze Runner and Butleren. A song that has followed him from his earliest acting days to his roles in the acclaimed TV series Reason 8 and I can destroy you. One that has kept him on the ground while working with Idris Elba on Yardie or during recordings Rustin, an approaching Netflix movie that has him cast as Martin Luther King, Jr.

“There are lots. I think I want to use just this one because it’s connected Boxing Day“, he hints.” But before I say it, the construction of the music was so important to me. Some people have noticed that it is almost like a mini-musical, Boxing Day. I start the film with Chet Baker, and Chet Baker is such a classic thing that it focuses an audience in a way, especially a black British audience who would never have seen themselves in this way, that this is a film that will be treated with class. ”

The film is inspired by Ameen’s life. He plays Melvin, a British writer living in America, with a new American fiancé, Lisa (Aja Naomi King). Their relationship is put to the test as he takes her home to London for the holidays and has to confront unresolved parts of his past, including Georgia, an ex-girlfriend he left behind (played by Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock) and his insecure British caribbean family.

“I really love my family, it’s that simple. When I go home to London – I live in Los Angeles – and I go to London during the Christmas period and we hold our 2nd Christmas Day parties, there is always a feeling that I am so rich, I am so wealthy. And everything I want to do or stay is put into perspective when I go home, when I am with my family. It is the most important place in the world, ”said Ameen. “My love for my family is what drove me to make this film, my love for our culture and our differences, how much we love each other, how much we celebrate life together. We are a family that holds speeches on birthdays , we are a family that truly honors what family is.

“But we are also a family that is burning, we have our problems and we have had our problems and we have survived together. I think that family aspect is really universal,” he said.

The importance of family is a universal theme and is prevalent in holiday films, however Boxing Day “goes a little deep into some deep issues that are in the culture,” Ameen said. There are some father-son strife at the heart of the film. Older characters find new love in the movie, “my love letter to my aunts and women in the age group that says I see you and that you are definitely still full of life,” Ameen said. Writing a unique love triangle enabled Ameen to explore the differences and common ground between black American and black British cultures. An interracial relationship shows how parents handle promoting in their children “a sense of pride in themselves and also the desire that they should be acceptable to everyone else,” Ameen said.

“I’m just stranded all these serious conversations in this vacation room-com genre, and hopefully it’s been captured,” he said.

Ameen clearly thinks about bringing people with different backgrounds together during our discussion. Just the night before, he had finished filming Rustin, the story of the late civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. The film also stars Colman Domingo and Chris Rock and is directed by Emmy-nominated George C. Wolfe.

click to enlarge Pinnock and Ameen in a Boxing Day Scene - MOVIE SCREENSHOT PERMISSION FROM THE INITIATIVE GROUP

Pinnock and Ameen in a scene from Boxing Day

Screenshot of the film lent by The Initiative Group

“There are a few lessons I learned from Martin, and one of them was the power of the collective consciousness, and what the power of the collective consciousness does to the world. We are mostly in an individualistic world, even if you just talk about your family, it’s very individual.I feel like I really learned about the power of the collective consciousness, and what coming together of many minds can do, and in fact, if anything, is the true representation of God, we all come together in a unique vision for the world based on very basic principles.

“When I studied the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, he talks about one day he will not be judged by your skin color, but by the content of your character. I have always heard it, and I understood it conceptually, but then I thought about what it really means, “Ameen continued. “What I think it really means is to have the patience to delay judgment, to delay judgment in a period of life where judgment is actually part of our survival mechanisms. To have the silence to delay the judgment of a person based on any external impression or projection you get, and then have the patience to learn who they are, who they really are, beyond the canvas of the physical body.

“I can only tell you so much about the experience because a lot of it was felt, but I’ve definitely been changed by it as a human being, really changed by it,” he said of fictitiously walking in King’s shoes. “It coincides to some extent with my film, and even the way I approached my film was about the masses. I did not make my film for myself alone, I made this film specifically for audiences who felt that they never had been seen this way, black Brits.Because I was dealing with the specificity that galvanized and gave energy to so many people to stand behind it, because it was unique, a unique idea, but a universal idea at the same time, because, ‘Hi, I want to be seen,’ ‘Hi, I’m experiencing love,’ ‘Hi, I’re honoring family,’ ‘Hi, I’ve been through things.’ Somehow they clashed. ”

While doing so, music bridged the gap between the different experiences. Ameen has musicians in his family. His brother, Mikel, has a song on the film’s soundtrack. When Aml was only a child, he appeared on stage with Michael Jackson. he claimed Boxing Day‘s score, by James Poyser, made him cry while editing the film. Music is important to him.

“I wanted to touch almost any genre of black music or black-influenced music I could,” he admitted. “You have a bit of dirt in there, you have John Coltrane, you have Beres Hammond, who clearly represents Jamaica and the Caribbean, you have the South African music when they fight for food. You have all this music from the diaspora that I would make sure , get into the conversation. ”

Pinnock, with the role of Georgia in the film, is a member of Little Mix, one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time. Ameen said Pinnock’s rendition of the classic “I Say a Little Prayer” in the film was her first time performing solo in a decade.

“When we first went to do it, she sang it a certain way and she has a great voice. I thought, ‘Make it simpler. Let’s tell a story, an iconic moment is what I told her, ”he recalled. “Do not sing it for me, speak it to me with your voice and tell the story of love that once was and is now lost. And I’m so proud of her because we really got it. ”

It may also have reminded me a bit of his song by Particular Brilliance.

“The song I would choose would be ‘Next Lifetime’ by Erykah Badu. It’s a song that has traveled with me since I was young. It gives my fascination with this reality and possibly other realities of different dimensions or reincarnation, said Ameen. “Erykah Badu’s ‘Next Lifetime’, as it pertains Boxing Day, is a kind of song between Georgia and Melvin. When you reach the end of the movie, it is not as if the love is completely lost between them, there is something there. But it is a growth and a maturation and an ascent to another place. So there is a mood of like “I’ll be seen next life.”

“When she sings, ‘I think I’ll see you next life, maybe we’ll be butterflies,'” Ameen sang it, then paused to consider it. “One of my favorite songs of all time.”

“Next Lifetime” is also likely to accompany Ameen on his next project. He has already started writing it and said, “writing is an extension of how I try to figure out my place in the world and life and family and love.

“I do not see it as extra work. It’s all part of what makes me the Aml man and the Aml artist, ”he said. “I’m a writer / director by nature, so it came very naturally to me, and so it was always worth it, it was always the biggest goal, the biggest gift to myself would be to do something from my imagination, from my inner self. “the world and semi-playing God by actually creating it in the physical world. It’s a real form of alchemy that is really dope and I really enjoy.”

It may not always be easy, but he appreciates the challenge and said it’s part of what he’s done this lifetime fulfilling.

“I believe that the pursuit of a good life is perspective. Achieving a good life is perspective because there will always be something. We live in the realm of duality that will always be night and day, left and right, So the real search for a good life is not about being perfect or happy all the time, but about being able to cope with the storms and getting up again. ”


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