Singer Plan B in Cannes with debut movie Ill Manors

Mon May 21, 2012 5:46am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival is a world way from the tough streets of east London where British rapper Ben Drew grew up, but the 28-year-old has come to the glamorous Riviera resort to promote his debut movie "Ill Manors".

The hard-hitting drama follows six interweaving lives -- junkie, drug dealer, ex-con, gangster, prostitute and central character Aaron, a kind of moral compass amid the violence, fear and abuse around him.

The action is set on the streets where Drew, best known by his stage name Plan B, was raised, and his motivation for putting a successful music career on hold to direct sprang as much from social engagement as from a desire to be a star.

"I think a kid can watch this film and go 'think about it'," he told Reuters in an interview in Cannes, where he is talking to potential foreign distributors for the picture. It hits British theatres on June 6.

"Next time he's in the gang environment and is being asked to do something, just think, maybe you are being manipulated here," he added in a swanky marquee lounge on the Cannes beachfront.

Drew could be talking about his character Jake, played by untrained actor Ryan De La Cruz who was 13 at the time the film was made. Jake craves acceptance, but his desire to please the criminals who adopt him leads to tragedy.

The movie has been described by MTV and others as a "hip-hop musical" -- Drew decided to tell each main character's back story through a rap track matching the images on screen.

He underlines the link between abuse and neglect of children and addiction and crime as an adult -- what he calls the "domino" effect.   Continued...