Shabu | Fresh Takes

Fresh takes and film reviews from new voices in film.

Clara, Benjamin, Daniella, Mátin & Nhu

11 Jul 23

Fresh Takes is a space for the latest generation of film lovers to share their views and opinions on some of the great films we are showing at Picturehouse cinemas. 

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Here are some Fresh Takes on the upcoming documentary SHABU, the story of a 14-year old from Peperklip, Rotterdam, who accidentally crashes his grandma's car and spends the summer making money to pay off the damages while balancing pursuing his dream of being a famous rapper. 

SHABU is out in cinemas from Friday 7 July. Book your tickets now.

Nhu Ngo, (22)

Nhu, 22, is a first-class Media Studies graduate with a profound love for international films, particularly those that delve into East Asian cultures and explore diverse walks of life.

Nhu says...

Shabu completely changed my perception of what a documentary should be: it is fresh, well-made and a perfect ode to 'black boy joy'.

The cinematography documentary is unquestionably outstanding, with all of the angles typical of an indie film – if I hadn't read the summary beforehand, I would have assumed it was scripted. The film's bright and vibrant colours wonderfully depict the summer atmosphere and match Shabu's musical voyage.

The storyline was also refreshing and genuine, inviting us to explore the complex world of Shabu, a 14-year-old boy from Peperklip who is passionate about making music. In essence, Shabu is a perfect watch for the summer, blending its bright and vibrant visuals with a compelling storyline.

Benjamin Newton, (17)

Benjamin Newton (@shotbynewton) runs a small filming business in Winchester (@BNF_productions). Currently at college in Southampton studying film and digital media, he is passionate about film, and aspires to carve out a career in the industry.

Benjamin says...

Shabu is an interesting film and documentation on troubled youth. Before watching it, I didn't really know what to expect, but I was surprised by the film's length and whether it would be able to get me truly invested, only being a mere 75 minutes. 

However the film is a perfect length and displays the film in a concise, minimalistic approach that highlights the struggles someone must make for their career, and the emotional repercussions and struggles this causes, especially for a child.

Shabu uses a multitude of film form techniques to portray a realistic scenario and setting. The director, Shamera Raphaela, focuses on capturing 'mundane' moments that are often unseen in fiction films, but helps to establish Shabu's character.

This intentional choice, paired with a plethora of others, such as the barebones soundtrack, allows the viewer to really feel what the characters are saying in the more dramatic/more emotionally intense scenes of the film, once again, helping to build up a realistic image of the neighbourhood the characters inhabit.

A wholesome and moving tale about a boy experiencing his first real struggles with life, Shabu is definitely an interesting watch.

Daniella Opoku, (18)

Daniella is a research-based video essayist with a YouTube channel named Town of Tawiah. She is a self-proclaimed decoloniser, with an unhealthy film obsession for genres including Afro-surrealism and documentaries around working-class experiences but at the heart of her interests is diversity and inclusion in film and narratives that use social commentary to help decolonise our on-screen experiences.

For more of her work, subscribe to her YouTube channel and TikTok.

Daniella says...

It's the summertime, and you're holding a cola ice pole in your hand as you follow the sound of afrobeats blasting from the speakers on the black boy cycling past you. Watching Shabu embodies this feeling; it's a feel-good walk through the summer in your local inner city neighbourhood materialised into a film.

14-year-old music artist Shabu is the bike rider that passes you. He is a local hero, a storyteller, not only to those in the auditorium chairs but to those around him. You can't help but smile as he invites you to witness him find his voice – a truly precious journey. 

From the first moment captured, you are welcomed into Peperklip in the Netherlands to celebrate its Afro-Caribbean diaspora, refreshingly reminiscent of the black British experience.

The beauty of black boy joy, brotherhood and the talent and creativity braided through that diaspora is wonderfully captured. Filmmaker Shamira Raphaela's background in audiovisual arts is perfectly apparent through her use of music, motifs and symbolism, with each moment captured in a way that is both aesthetically gratifying to the narrative and amplifies Shabu's voice.

It takes a fresh approach to documentary that has the energy and spirit of a feature film such as Sarah Gavron's Rocks or Rick Famuyiwa's Dope but stays true to the authenticity of unscripted film. It explores all of the awkwardness of being a teen with an emphasis on black normality - an under-discussed narrative on-screen.

Clara, (25)

Clara currently works in Liverpool in the area of circular economy investing, and was introduced to a variety of genres from a very early age which created and cemented her love for film. Clara has dual nationality and has lived in five countries and so is especially interested in international films that bring fresh perspectives.

Clara says...

A light-hearted summer tale, Shabu follows the ups and downs of a 14-year-old's holiday, coloured by the need to repay his grandmother for damage caused after crashing her car while driving it without permission. Taking place mostly in a social housing complex in Rotterdam endearingly named the Peperklip (but which is not without violence), the documentary feels like an honest glimpse into the character-forming moments of Shabu's teen summer.

With clever musical accompaniments and highly enjoyable visuals, including of some of Rotterdam's impressive architecture, parts of the film are so cleverly arranged that it doesn't feel at all like a documentary. Shabu's clear ease in front of the camera also contributes to this, a natural performer whose energy is an essential part of the flow of the film.

You are quickly drawn into the everyday life of the teen, with his love for music and the relationships with his friends and family. It is a reminder of what it felt like to be 14: arguments, but also wise advice and support, from family; break-ups and reconciliations with girlfriends. Behind all this sits the weight of the crime and violence that these young teens have also been exposed to.

An excellent and heart-warming watch, the film also leaves you with an eagerness to learn more. Maybe the sequel needed is a full Kardashians-style series to follow Shabu onwards in his blossoming music career?

Mátin Cheng, (20ish)

Mátin loves Tár, Abbas Kiarostami, Girl from the North Country and The Legend of Zelda. They have a strong aspiration to become a film, theatre and game director.

Mátin says...

Shabu, a delightful documentary, takes viewers on a captivating journey alongside its teenage protagonist throughout the summer. This film injects a much-needed dose of passion and uplifting energy into the often-rainy British summertime.

Only a few shots in, Shabu distinguishes itself from the realm of conventional documentaries through its unusual way of using music. From eerie and suspenseful horror scores to vibrant and catchy tunes created by none other than Shabu himself, Shabu immerses us in the complex and nuanced emotions experienced by our central character.

This unconventional musical approach creates a rare atmosphere seldom encountered in documentaries. Whenever Shabu gets back to his room and spends the endless summertime with his friends, it evokes memories of the sweltering afternoons in Chungking Express, when Faye sneaks into Cop 663's little flat and aimlessly daydreams amidst the company of little goldfish.

Combined with its smooth yet well-designed editing, the sound element of the film creates an illusion of narrative and fiction, as if every scene has been meticulously scripted.

This remarkable blend challenges the boundaries between documentaries and narrative films, reminding us of the countless creative choices involved in documentary filmmaking and questioning the necessity of film taxonomy. Shabu is a joyful and impactful experience that is simply unmissable for summer cinema enthusiasts.

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