Film Brighton presents High Water: drugs or murder?

Look out for High Water, a feature-length thriller that opens with the discovery of a young man, Jake, dead on the beach in Brighton. It’s a film, directed and co-written by Ewan Gorman who wrote and directed the Beast of Bevendean in 2014, available on Amazon Prime.

The coroner rules that Jake died because of a heroin overdose but his father, Vince Sand is not convinced. Vince is an investigative journalist who sets out to discover the truth.

High Water
Vince Sand

As he searches for answers Vince discovers an underworld in Brighton of homelessness and drug-taking and a mafia-like web of businessmen ruthlessly exploiting the ‘Street People.’ Bitter rivalry divides the drug barons. Vince’s ex-wife is married to Lockwood, who owns a restaurant and knows the drug-dealers. Is Lockwood involved and if so, how?

Mr Gorman said: “High Water is about them and us. Homelessness is normalised: people in tents and sleeping bags and the imbalance of power between renters and landlords. Homelessness is a complicated one for lots of reasons and one of those is drugs. Addiction isn’t a choice.” Vince has been away from Brighton for five years and he sees a change when he returns.  

Real life murders inspired Mr Gorman to write his screenplay because he believes films must contain some truth to be authentic. He said: “This film is based on my own experiences, the people that I know, and events that have happened here in Brighton.” For example, he said a drug addict was murdered in Portslade because he couldn’t pay £100 debt, a body was found in the woods of a Brighton golf course and another on Hove Seafront. People repeatedly stepped over a dead body in a squat before reporting it.

Expect a revenge element where Vince is pushed through anger and grief to do things he wouldn’t normally do. High Water’s central question is what is the value of human life and does every life matter or do some lives matter more than others?

Mr Gorman teaches filmmaking at the Youth Film School and Hove College. He has set up Film Brighton which is a Community Interest Company that aims to ensure more feature films are made in Brighton and Hove. High Water is shooting this month and looking for investors at the moment. It’s the first of five feature films to receive £10,000 production funding from Film Brighton to be shot here in the city.

Hove MP fights for the rights of domestic abuse victims

Last week, Hove MP Peter Kyle urged the Government to finally outlaw the cross-examination of domestic abuse victims in family courts by perpetrators. In a House of Commons debate Peter Kyle MP urged the Government to make sure the long-awaited Domestic Abuse Bill is carried over to the next Parliamentary session.

Mr Kyle said: “[Survivors of domestic abuse] have been waiting for 25 years, and indeed for much longer, but for the past three years, the Government have been promising to outlaw cross-examination by perpetrators of domestic violence.

“People have waited for so long, so will he now give a commitment that this Bill will be seen through before the House is prorogued once more? If it was not, that would be the final straw for many very vulnerable people.”

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland MP confirmed that the Bill will be carried over to the next Parliamentary session and allowed to progress.

domestic abuse
Peter Kyle MP for Hove and Portslade

Mr Kyle has been campaigning about domestic abuse since he was first elected in 2015, when a constituent at one of his surgeries told him of her horrific experience being cross-examined. Mr Kyle spoke about this in yesterday’s debate, and stressed that there must be no further delay.

He said: “I was made very aware of the problem of cross-examination by perpetrators of domestic violence when a woman came to see me at a surgery soon after I became a Member of Parliament. She had suffered so much abuse—she had been raped multiple times, she had been knocked unconscious and she had been hospitalised more than a dozen times—but the perpetrator of those crimes, from prison, summoned her to family court on three separate occasions.

“She told me that on the third occasion she had to ask the taxi driver to stop on the way home so she could vomit in the gutter because of the experience of being cross-examined by the perpetrator of the crimes against her.

“She told me that if she was summoned a fourth time, she would capitulate and give him whatever he wanted. She was broken, not just by the criminal who raped and abused her, but by the system that allowed her to be cross-examined by him, and that allowed the abuse to continue under the nose of judges, and in front of police—the very people the state appoints to support and protect women like her.”

Mr Kyle also pointed out that almost three years have passed since the Government first committed to outlawing cross-examination.  

In response to his urgent question, he said: “After a huge campaign, both from Members from across the House and in the media, the Government finally gave way and agreed to make a change. I credit Mr Speaker with granting me an urgent question on the subject in January 2017, almost three years ago, at which the Government relented for the first time and promised to change the law.

Sir Oliver Heald, then Minister for Courts and Justice, said in reply: “This sort of cross-examination is illegal in the criminal courts, and I am determined to see it banned in family courts, too. Work is being done at a great pace…the urgency is there.”

Mr Kyle said: “That is important. The woman I mentioned cried with joy at the news that there would be a change. In her words, she felt liberated; a weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

“However, we must recognise the scale of the suffering that there has been since the Government gave that commitment almost three years ago. While we celebrate the Bill finally bring brought in, there has been much suffering as a result of the delays.”

The full debate can be found here.

My article was first published in Brighton and Hove News.