Although “Yardie” chronicles violence between Jamaican and British gangs in ’70s London, its director, Idris Elba, tells TheWrap’s awards editor Steve Pond that modern race relations didn’t cross his mind during the film’s making.
Named after the term that refers to Jamaican expats — and sometimes to Jamaican gangs in the U.K. — “Yardie” adapts the novel of the same name by Victor Headley. It tells the story of a young Jamaican (Aml Ameen) who watches his peace-loving brother get shot down by a gang and must choose between following his brother’s path or joining a rival gang to avenge him.
Following the film’s premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Pond asked Elba whether it was meant to connect the racial conflicts between Jamaicans and Brits in London in the 1970s with today’s racial tensions, but Elba said that their goal was to immerse audiences in a time and place completely outside of our modern world, describing “Yardie” as “a complete needle drop into a time period.”
“When people expect something like [race issues] from the title, especially in England, they’ll expect a film that deals with Jamaican gangsters and racism in London,” Elba said. “We stayed away from that…we had many discussions on how to stay away from the stereotypes of what the title presents itself.”
See more of Elba’s thoughts on his film in the clip above.