26 November 2019 08:33

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CONTROVERSIAL gang film Blue Story can still be seen at some cinemas in Bradford. Tickets can still be booked for the film at The Light, Broadway; Cineworld at the Bradford Leisure Exchange and the Odeon at Thornbury. Both Showcase Cinemas and Vue have withdrawn the film after a mass brawl at a screening in Birmingham. Gangs of youths, some armed with machetes, clashed at the Star City cinema on Saturday evening and seven police officers were injured in the violence. Six teenagers, including four 14-year-olds and a 13-year-old girl, were arrested in connection with the disorder and have been bailed by police.

Vue, which runs Star City, took to the decision to pull the film from its 91 UK venues. Showcase Cinemas, which has a cinema in Birstall, also pulled the film from the listings of its 21 outlets across the UK. Blue Story's writer and director, Andrew Onwubolu, condemned the incident in Birmingham and said that his film was about "love not violence". Onwubolu, also known as Rapman, described the incident as "truly unfortunate". Writing on Instagram on Sunday afternoon, he said: "Sending love to all those involved in yesterday's violence at Star City in Birmingham.

"It's truly unfortunate that a small group of people can ruin things for everybody. Blue Story is a film about love not violence." The film focuses on two friends from different south London postcodes, on rival sides of a street war. It is rated 15 for very strong language, strong violence, threat, sex, and drug misuse. Onwubolu added: "I pray that we can all learn to live with love and treat each other with tolerance and respect." A Vue spokesman said: "We can confirm a decision was made to remove the film. "The safety and welfare of our customers and staff is always our first priority." While a spokesperson for Showcase said: "Due to the recent incidents tied to screenings of the film "Blue Story", after careful consideration with the film's distributor, Showcase Cinemas has immediately removed the film from our all of our participating cinemas. "Any guests that have purchased tickets in advance can receive a full refund at the cinema box office. "We remain in discussions with the distributor with regards to the possibility of re-introducing the film in due course. "We apologise for any inconvenience but guest safety remains our top priority." A spokeswoman for Paramount UK said: "We were saddened to see the events that unfolded at Star City and our sympathies are with all those affected. "We feel that this is an important film, which we've seen play in more than 300 cinemas across the country, with incredibly positive reactions and fantastic reviews. "We thank all our exhibition partners for their ongoing support." (CNN) A UK cinema chain is defending its decision to pull gang-warfare film "Blue Story" from theaters, hitting back at accusations of bias and saying it documented more than 25 "significant incidents" at theaters within the first day of the film's opening. Showcase Cinemas announced Monday it would also be pulling the BBC-backed film, telling CNN that the safety of moviegoers was of the "utmost importance." However, on Monday afternoon showtimes for the film were still listed on Showcase's website The ban follows the brawl at Birmingham's Star City multiplex, where six teenagers, aged 13 to 19, were arrested following a riot involving up to 100 youths. Two machetes were seized during the disorder and seven officers were injured, West Midlands Police said. "Blue Story," co-produced by BBC Films and Paramount Pictures UK, tells the story of two friends who find themselves on rival sides of a neighborhood gang war in south London. It's a timely film, as a rising number of young people in the UK are falling victim to gang violence and knife-related crime But some have criticized the decision not to show the movie. Social commentator Patrick Vernon said there was no justification for the film's removal and BAME Lawyers For Justice, a group that advocates for ethnic minorities in England, has written an open letter demanding an explanation. Vue told CNN in a statement Monday that, despite "a range of precautionary measures" such as increased security and fewer screenings of the film--including a ban on late-night showings--"Blue Story" was now being withdrawn in its entirety on the "grounds of safety alone." Writer-director Andrew Onwubolu, aka Rapman, at the world premiere of "Blue Story" November 14 in London. The cinema chain said it was "disappointed" to take such action, but added it "will not take any risks with regard to the welfare and safety of our staff and our customers. Unfortunately, the actions of a significant few have spoiled the opportunity for others, but we stand by our decision to withdraw the film from our schedule indefinitely." Vue said 25 "significant incidents" were reported to senior management in 16 of its 91 venues in the UK and Ireland. But Vernon told CNN, "This is a powerful film which raises key issues and debates around identity, culture and, of course, issues around violence in the community." Ife Thompson, a member of BAME Lawyers For Justice and founder of BLAM (Black Learning Achievement and Mental Health) Charity, has written an open letter to Vue demanding an explanation from the chain. She told CNN that by drafting the letter the group is trying to ensure "there is accountability." Vue has rejected claims the decision to withdraw the movie was based on "biased assumptions or concern about the content of the film itself." The cinema chain described "Blue Story" as a "fantastic film... that has the opportunity to change lives." The film's writer-director Andrew Onwubolu, known as Rapman, has condemned the disturbance, insisting his film is "about love, not violence." Onwubolu said on Twitter it was "truly unfortunate that a small group of people can ruin things for everybody." He said he hoped the "blame is placed with the individuals and not an indictment of the film itself." BBC Films and Paramount Pictures UK both told CNN they were saddened by the violence and defended "Blue Story" for its portrayal of the "futility of gang violence."