It is the summer of 1969 and it is hot, very hot! The scent of rare orchids and sweet honeysuckle permeate the air, colliding deliciously with the comforting aroma of bread baking in the courtyard ovens. And, I must not forget (God forbid) the dried olive leaves used as sacred incense by the church priest – guaranteed to bless you, smoke drama and the devil OUT.
‘Uranya’ a beautiful and wordly woman (if you believe the village murmurs) lives alone. Set on a beach overlooking the brilliant blue Mediterranean, her home is humble on the outside but the village boys are more interested by the man affirming experiences they have heard goes on inside. So, they start to save their drachmas in a rusty old tin to pay for a ‘visit’ with ‘Uranya’ and discover the mysteries of agapi.
The five boys in this story take an oath on this but there is another potential life-changing event about to take place – the Apollo 11 Moon Landing on July 20th. Now, there was a problem – no one in the village owned a TV on which to watch this historic event on. Achilleas, one of the boys and central to this story is now faced with a dilemma and decision to make that could lead to the breaking of the oath of this randy band of young brothers – spend their savings visiting ‘Uranya’ or buy a TV set – Model 19″ America make URANYA!!
I cried a little and belly laughed a lot watching this 2006 movie. Films like ‘Uranya’ make me think of my nephews and the antics boys get up to in the name of experience and exploration when they are young. It’s a coming of age story and one that impacts the families of the village as well as friendships in ways that change out of date beliefs and perceptions of ones neighbours.
For Achilleas and his friends, this was a time in their simple rural lives when nothing was in reach, yet everything was. When seeing stars and reaching for the moon was a dream, a dream made true with the heavenly love of Greek Muse of Astronomy ‘Urania’ and her village namesake.
In Greek mythology, there were nine muses: Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomeni, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Urania and Calliope. Urania was the guardian of celestial objects and the heavens. Known to have founded astrology, she wore a cloak embroidered with stars and held a sphere and a bow compass.
‘Every year world-wide, there are over 26 million arranged marriages. Over 53% of all marriages in the world are arranged. Globally, over 11 million women are forced to marry before the age of 18’.
A startling, accurate statement at the bitter end of British Indie Film ‘The Forbidden Note’ which struck more than a familiar tune with me I can tell you. Tissues and a cup of strong tea at hand, I was prepared, prepared for the sting of tears which usually surface after a love story doesn’t go the way I hoped it would and the lump in my throat to be comforted by my hot brew; calming my romantic soul. However, the emotion that I didn’t possess a coping mechanism for whilst watching ‘The Forbidden Note’ on amazon.co.uk Amazon Prime was pure rage.
Whilst this film essentially highlights the desperate plight of millions of young women and girls being forced to marry against their will, it also touches on the harrowing act of grooming innocent young children who are lured into worlds that take them away from the dreamland they are desperately trying to reach.
Orphan Cosmo, played by Reese Scholtz, is banished from a boarding school by a less than God like nun after his mother passed away. Just a boy, he is thrust into Yardie territory and the brutish arms of its leader Benzart played by Fredi ‘Kruga’ Nwaka to be made a soldier; a child soldier. Sakeena, played by Reena Anjali is a Muslim girl promised to a fellow Muslim who is so vile and inadequate in every way possible, that you would question any parent or family member, regardless of culture or religious conviction, for believing a life of misery with ‘that’ is a life worth living for their daughter. These are very real stories, stories of a savage existence, experienced behind every dark corner and continent.
Supressed by the criminal underworld and ignorant, undisguised restrictions, Cosmo teaches himself to play the piano and Sakeena is a ballerina tip toeing through life on a secret stage. Both find solace and freedom of expression through music and dance which inevitably leads them to one another. Those of you who are open-minded, with a live and let live attitude will think this a perfect combination but the course of true love never did run smooth…so they say.
‘The Forbidden Note’ has my full attention thanks to writer and director Callum Andrew Johnston who has thoughtfully created a telling piece. He wrote this emotive story with two highly sensitive topics in his mind, arranged marriages and radicalization but he skilfully managed to incorporate so much more. Scripted and acted with feeling and depth, this film has left me emotionally invested for an eternity unless history is made!
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are forced (without a choice) to do something that your heart and mind tells you not to? Have you ever been torn between your passions and your family’s expectations? These two dilemmas and very real issues came across so profoundly in a film trailer I watched that I had to write more than one review for it. The Forbidden Note is a British Indie Film which captures the emotions, struggle and deep love felt by two people who cannot bare to be without each other.
‘Cosmo, a South African pianist falls in love with Sakeena a British Muslim ballerina, who is forced into an arranged marriage by her abusive radicalised Uncle. Through their struggle, Cosmo tries to show that the power of love, is far more important than the love for power’.
We are lead to believe that we are living in the age of the freedom to choose and live as we see fit but this heart-wrenching tale of forbidden love gives us a glimpse of the reality for many young people in the western world…believe it or not. Independent film makers are a rare breed, creators of visions that provoke and make us think how lucky we are and Callum Andrew Johnston has, with respect, written and directed a story which is familiar, authentic and powerful.
Callum will tell you that the film making journey from start to finish was not without its ups and downs but his own passion for the delicate subject matter of the film gave him the strength to see it though. Now, there is a new journey ahead of him; distribution. We can all see this beautifully crafted Indie Film but we need your help. I’m not the kind of person to ask for anything, I have a stubborn, I can do it alone streak but this isn’t about me, it’s about Callum after getting to know him and the hopes he has for his sincere piece of work. If you could give The Forbidden Note a few minutes of your time, it would mean the world, if we can hit 100k YouTube views we will all have the opportunity to see The Forbidden Note on our screens.
I would like to add that The Forbidden Note was selected and shown at the Cannes Film Festival this year to great reviews. A truly worthy film will evoke emotions you were not expecting to pour out of you; tears of joy or tears of sorrow? There is only one way to find out.