In August 2011 29 year old Mark Duggan was shot and killed whilst being arrested by armed police in Tottenham. This incident ignited a riot that escalated into a week of the worst civil unrest in recent British history.
Essentially The Hard Stop is an observational documentary that follows the progress of two of Mark Duggan’s childhood friends over the course of 24 months as they deal with bereavement, imprisonment and unemployment whilst the journalistic debate about who exactly their friend Mark Duggan was and the judicial inquiry into his killing plays out as a news story in the background.
The Hard Stop employs observational video, imaginative use of news archive, iconic cinematography and a compelling music soundtrack to put Marcus and Kurtis’s experience up on the big screen and by doing so tell Mark Duggan’s story.
The Hard Stop
Director: George Amponsah
Producer: Dionne Walker
Editors: James Devlin, Michael Aaglund
Marcus Knox-Hooke and Kurtis Henville grew up with Mark Duggan on the Broadwater Farm housing project in Tottenham, North London. Their home became notorious in 1985 after a riot broke out following the death of a local woman at the hands of police officers. During the riot a police officer-PC Blakelock was hacked to death by the mob.
27 years later and Marcus and Kurtis firmly believe there is an ongoing vendetta that exists between the police and their community following the death of PC Blakelock and this they believe might have been a factor in why their friend Mark Duggan was killed.
1985. Kurtis Henville, Marcus Knox-Hooke and Mark Duggan are just four years old when PC Keith Blakelock is hacked to death on their estate . Broadwater Farm becomes a no go area for outsiders, including the police.
2009. Marcus is looking for a way out. He leaves Broadwater Farm and converts to Islam. Kurtis also wants to leave his past behind. After a spell in prison, he is now living with his girlfriend Eve and their two children. Kurtis is determined not to go back inside.
By 2011 both Marcus and Kurtis have left the gang life behind and are going straight whilst Mark continues to live the fast life.
On August 4th 2011, their lives are torn apart. At 6:15pm, on Ferry Lane in Tottenham, Mark Duggan is shot dead by armed police. On August 6th 2011, a peaceful protest outside the police station in Tottenham, led by the family of Duggan, is ignored by the officers inside. After no explanation is given by the police as to why Mark had been killed the crowd becomes angry. Overcome with emotion Marcus Knox-Hooke throws the first stone in what becomes Britain’s biggest riot of the 21st Century, soon spreading throughout the capital, and across the country.
June 2012. Marcus is arrested for his role in the 2011 riots. He is charged and placed under house arrest awaiting trial. He does not deny his involvement in the riots and knows that a prison sentence is imminent. He prepares for incarceration with spiritual conviction, hoping that learning the truth of his friend’s death will help him, and others, to find peace.
Kurtis is angry. His intention was to be at the protest, but he was pulled away by concerned family members, worried about possible trouble. Now he feels a sense of survivor’s guilt. Still searching for legal employment and hampered by his criminal record, Kurtis’ struggle is emblematic of many in Britain’s recession hit economy as he struggles to find a job to support his wife and kids.
Marcus and Kurtis revisit The Broadwater Farm Housing Estate the surrounding neighbourhood. They also attend a ‘Memorial’ gathering at Mark Duggan’s gravesite where they reconnect with friends and family; Pam Duggan; Simone Wilson; Mark’s children: Mark Duggan’s younger brother –Marlon, and the circle of Mark’s close friends, referred to by others as STARGANG: supposedly an offshoot From the notorious T.M.D/Tottenham Man Dem Gang.
November 2012 Marcus Knox-Hooke is sent to prison to serve a sentence no longer than 2 years.
After a long spell of unemployment Kurtis finally gets a job as a telesales operative in Norwich just outside of London.
On the final day of the inquest Marcus and Kurtis are with the Duggan family and their legal team as they exit the court building–emotions are running high since the jury has concluded that the killing of Mark Duggan by Officer V53 was lawful. The family are mobbed by press and reporters. Carol Duggan gives an impassioned speech pleading for calm and no violence. She vows that the justice for Mark Duggan campaign will continue.
That weekend Marcus and Kurtis take part in a mass vigil outside Tottenham police station. Activists from Tottenham and other spokespersons make political speeches denouncing the lawful killing verdict and calling for an end to deaths in police custody. Marcus and Kurtis watch as the Duggan family release white doves into the air, symbolising the Tottenham community’s wish for peace.
Contact: Dionne Walker
George Amponsah is best known for award winning feature length documentaries The Importance of being
Elegant (BBC Storyville) and The Fighting Spirit (PBS). A graduate of NFTS, he is now a highly experienced director with a rack of credits on documentaries for the big screen, television and the internet. Recent projects range from single observational documentaries for ITVS, PBS, BBC 2 and BBC 4 to series for Sky1 HD.
Dionne Walker is a producer who uses film, photography and text to communicate issues relating to inequalities across the cityscape – her work includes, “Green History” (2010), “Waves of Protest” (2011) and “Changing the World” (2012) series at British Museum. In the past, Dionne worked with directors and producers as one of London location coordinators and facilitated major blockbuster films such as the Lost Son, A King of Hush, Harry Potter Series, Mummy Returns, V for Vendetta, Eyes Wide Shut, Here After, etc. She is the lead producer of the feature length documentary The Hard Stop. Dionne is also an Emerging European Producers 2015 Fellow.