Documentary film and TV maker Cherish Oteka is an insightful observer and visual translator of individual experiences related to race, sex, class, religion, and the often contentious relationship of these identities to Britishness. The Black Cop, is their latest documentary short. Nominated for a BAFTA the film is a portrait of the charismatic Gamal "G" Turawa and his experiences in the Met police as a black, gay officer.

The story of "G" covers his fostering by a white family in the suburbs to a move to London with a father unknown to him, and the subsequent racial demarcation, both implicit and explicit, he experiences. Mesmerised and inspired by the powerful figure of a black police officer directing traffic, he enters the force perhaps without realising the extreme levels of institutional subordination bordering on torture he would endure. Told with incredible candor by "G" his recollections are also a reckoning with the very concept of race. His feeling of isolation is exacerbated during the 80s aids "scare". Hiding his homosexuality from his co-workers becomes even more imperative as the media amplification looks to blame the gay community directly.

Cherish's foregrounding "G" in very close-up, personal interviews are enhanced by both historical news footage and documentary reconstruction. Dario talks to Cherish in detail about the form of the film and using a range of documentary registers, along with deploying formative memories as the narrative anchoring points of life stories. The untold histories of British culture and how, as a society, we reckon with them through art forms such as film and TV, is also a central discussion point.

Neil and Dario begin by reflecting on a number of films they have recently watched including Petrov's Flu (Kirill Serebrennikov, 2022), The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier, 2022), Paris, 13th district (Jacques Audiard,2022), C'mon C'mon (Mike Mills, 2022). 

Show Notes

Watch The Black Cop on The Guardian Website

Some more of Cherish's TV and Online work:

Too Gay for God?

A Man Called Dad

NERD: BBC Body Positivity 'Katie Snooks'

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Music Credits:

‘Theme from The Cinematologists’

Written and produced by Gwenno Saunders. Mixed by Rhys Edwards. Drums, bass & guitar by Rhys Edwards. All synths by Gwenno Saunders. Published by Downtown Music Publishing.

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