“You know, I have experienced three winters in Siberia, but I have never been as cold as in Moss Side. Like many of our neighbors we cannot afford heating or electricity more than 4-5 hours a day and only in rooms we occupy. It´s warmer outdoors, so my daughter and I spend most days walking around the area. I had no idea people suffered like this in England.”
This is a 750 km long road movie about the meaning of life. It is a film about choosing a life style different to most other people and being brave doing things nobody else dares to. Like having tattoos, living with your child on a boat but not paying rent, being rich and powerful but always fighting for justice and the poor, saying exactly what´s on your mind, or choosing the life of a Hare Krishna monk free from materialism. Or, like me, after being a stay-at-home dad with two toddlers living in one of the most deprived -but friendly-areas in England, setting off on a journey of discovery with my youngest daughter in a pram, walking from Manchester to London. Together with an English partner, Georgia with a posh accent, who is six weeks pregnant.
The narrator in this modern road movie is me. I have spent the last 29 years trying to figure out the meaning of life. I have explored many extreme corners of our earth. I have lived with the Maasai, travelled with Eveny reindeer herders across the frozen part of Siberia on the back of a sledge, I have skied and paddled down the coldest inhabited river on earth, Kolyma, ridden horses across Patagonia, cycled two times around the globe during almost 7 years and crossed one of the hottest deserts on earth in Yemen with a camel. I have experienced quite a lot and I have been able to figure some things out with regards to the meaning of life.
”I just don´t understand it! It makes me very uncomfortable knowing there´s so much money here in England, but there´s just a few bastards sitting on it all, not sharing. And I ask myself, what is the joy of having more money than you need?”
This is also a documentary trying to figure out the English who are still dominated by class, accents and whether you went to a public school (private) or not. I ask everyone we meet on the journey three questions: How do you define a typical English person. Why are there so big gaps between the rich and poor in England? And what do you think about our journey? The answers are as divided and diverse as the new England of today with a big and interesting immigrant population like in Birmingham and Moss Side. The strong personalities in the film are many.
My family and I spent almost a year living in Moss Side. It changed my life. This is one of the most exciting and culturally diverse areas of England. But it is also a very deprived and poor one. Most of the environment is tarmac and concrete and up until 2006 it was an area of gang related crime, drugs, weapons, riots and vicious police raids and there´s a slight atmosphere of hopelessness. Unemployment is rife. I was a stay-at-home dad with two toddlers, Eva, 4, who went to one of the poorest schools and Dana, almost 2, who was together with me all the time. We two spent most of our time outdoors; it was too cold to stay inside during the winter months.
Whilst documenting our time in Moss Side, I was often in shock as I had no idea that the gap between rich and poor was as wide as this in England. Realizing we could not afford to put Dana in nursery school, I decided to set off with her in a pram walking from some of the poorest homes in England to one of the richest, Buckingham Palace in London. This was not only an opportunity for me to figure out modern England, but also a chance for me on a personal level to understand where I belong in this modern world, using my 29 years of exploration knowledge to find answers. And at the same time introduce my daughter to this free, uncomplicated and rich life where she meets new people every day, sleeps at new place every night and showing her that it is choosing a different lifestyle that makes you richer, not money. My love for her is without a limit.
One of many strong personalities in this film is my partner Georgia from Bolton who went to a private school for girls, has a posh accent and was brought up in a conservative Thatcherite environment. Initially she is afraid of breaking laws like wild camping without permission, but with every meter we walk she starts questioning most of her previous ideas about what is right and wrong. She starts to question English society like for example why almost all land is private and is only of use of a few, she realizes that people in the South are more hospitable than in the North and that a good education is the only way for people to have equal opportunities, which is far from the case today.
Since it is a road movie, most interviews, conversations and speakers are done walking. Everything happens right now. It is a positive and funny film set in England that questions modern life and the hunt for more money, status and trying to be perfect. It is a film that inspires others to dare to live life to its fullest and not be like everybody else.
The homepage of the film is here at http://www.thelandofhopeandglorya750kmlongroadmovie.com/