Almost Liverpool 8 film challenges “outdated” Toxteth stereotypes, says director Daniel Draper

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The co-director is “tired of the outdated perceptions” of the area and claims it is “multicultural Britain at its best”.

Almost Liverpool 8 is being premiered next month and the film focuses on a wide variety of local people in the L8 postcode including bee keepers, community organisers, activists, poets, musicians and even horses.

One of the directors, Daniel Draper, who grew up and lives in Toxteth got the idea for the film after seeing a series of photographs of the area shot 50 years ago by legendary British photographer Don McCullin.

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Draper told LiverpoolWorld: “I went to Tate Britain in London in 2019 and saw Don’s images and it really got me thinking about my community.

“It seemed like a good moment to turn the cameras on where we live.”

An interview with McCullin was shot for the documentary before the COVID-19 pandemic started and the majority of filming was done outside over the summer of 2020.

Draper, who has made documentaries about veteran Labour politician Dennis Skinner and the Durham Miners’ Gala, said: “Don’s images are in black and white and almost grim, the film we have done is full of summery images and a real contrast.

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“The wonderful people we shot all live here in L8. I’m tired of the outdated preconceptions you see on TV about Toxteth that started in the 80s.

“It doesn’t give the area its dues. Producing this film is the only way we knew how to address it as filmmakers.”

Local filmmakers Christie Allanson produced and edited the film, Allan Melia co-directed and shot it.

Co-director Allan Melia. Image: Shut Out the Light Films Co-director Allan Melia. Image: Shut Out the Light Films
Co-director Allan Melia. Image: Shut Out the Light Films | Co-director Allan Melia. Image: Shut Out the Light Films

Acclaim for the film

There is already a buzz about the film, described as a “love letter to a postcode”, and produced by Toxteth-based independent film company Shut Out The Light Films.

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Litherland-born poet Roger McGough has described the film as “beautifully shot and well paced” stating: “What a tribute to Liverpool eh? Elegiac, and everyone a star.”

It was part of Sheffield DocFest, an international film and arts festival, earlier this year.

The film had its preview at Tate Liverpool, alongside the Don McCullin exhibition which was originally shown at Tate Britain and has more than 200 photographs of Liverpool in the 1960s and 1970s.

The first public screening of Almost Liverpool 8 will be at the Liverpool Philharmonic on 1 September and Draper says it will be shown “gradually” at other places starting with the FACT and Everyman cinemas.

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“I think people will connect with it or they won’t, it’s a bit like the area as a whole.

“It’s not overly emotive or cheesy but I think it has portraits which people will like and may see beauty in it,” said Draper.

“Some might say it’s a parochial film, but our approach is that it is the world in one postcode, multicultural Britain at its best.”

Almost Liverpool 8. Image: Shut out the Light FilmsAlmost Liverpool 8. Image: Shut out the Light Films
Almost Liverpool 8. Image: Shut out the Light Films | Almost Liverpool 8. Image: Shut out the Light Films

The film will be aired on Wednesday, 1 September at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. For further information and to book tickets please see the Philharmonic website.

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Don McCullin’s exhibition at Tate Liverpool has been extended until 5 September 2021.

Draper is currently editing his latest documentary, about Walton as Labour’s safest seat in the country.

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