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Director Steve McQueen Discusses His New Film On Grenfell

Oscar-winning film director Steve McQueen is gearing up to release his film on the Grenfell Tower disaster nearly six years after the tragedy occurred. McQueen is hoping the film’s release will help push for justice. 

According to McQueen, who recently spoke with The Guardian in an exclusive interview, the 24-minute film was shot from a helicopter in December 2017 before the burned tower in west London was wrapped in white plastic. 

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McQueen discussed that the film was made with heavy involvement and consultation from the survivors of the tragedy, along with neighbors and families/friends of the victims. The community, like McQueen, is hoping the film will lead to further answers, prosecutions, and potential jail time to those involved in the Grenfell Tower tragedy; more than 5 years after it occurred. 

“You must understand that the violence that was inflicted on that community was no joke, I didn’t want to let people off the hook. There are going to be people who are going to be a little bit disturbed. When you make art, anything half decent … there are certain people you will possibly offend. But that is how it is.”

No individuals or companies have been punished for their role in the tragedy, which led to the deaths of 72 people. 

“I wanted to put the building in perspective of our everyday [life]. It’s not isolated. That is important because you [the viewer] put it in the perspective of yourself,” McQueen said

McQueen also discussed how he “sat on the film after it was shot because it couldn’t have been shown within three or four years [of the disaster].” 

Ed Daffarn, who escaped from his 16th-floor flat, said: “Sitting there looking at [the tower] captured the pure violence of what was meted out to us by the perpetrators. It has come at a good time. We need Grenfell in the public consciousness.”

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McQueen also explained how he became more motivated to create the film once he heard that city officials were planning to wrap up the tower in plastic.

“It was almost like a race against time. Once things are covered up, they are forgotten about, or it can be more convenient for people who want it to be forgotten about,” he explained. 

The film itself, according to reports, is silent besides the sounds of wind, cars, airplanes, and birds in the distance as footage shows the tower and zooms into spaces where individuals died during the tragedy. 

“It is like poring over a map – a satisfying survey of an impressive civilisation. Then the charcoal black lattice of Grenfell appears and the soundtrack cuts to silence and the camera circles the tower for minute after minute. It is haunting and upsetting,” writer Robert Booth stated. 

“It’s about the building and suspending it in time, and looking. Holding, holding, holding. [The tragedy] was deliberate neglect. It was no accident. There were so many people, so many companies, so many factors … It was all a deliberate act of neglect and, to a certain extent, greed,” McQueen said. 

The film is currently set to be exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery in London from April 7th to May 10th.

rescue

Over 60 Dead And Dozens Missing In Italy Migrant Tragedy 

Italy’s southern coast was the site of a major migrant tragedy in which 62 people have been reported dead while dozens remain missing. At least seven children have died after a boat broke up within stormy seas off the Calabrian coast this past Sunday. 

The boat was reported to have 170 passengers on it with around 80 surviving, while the remaining unaccounted for individuals are feared to have also passed away. 

The United Nations and Doctors Without Borders were at the scene of the accident, where they reported a majority of the victims were Afghan, Pakistani, and Iraq; all groups were seeking asylum in the EU. 

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Monday, two coast guard vessels performed search and rescue from north to south off Steccato di Cutro while a helicopter assisted from the air. Firefighters located three additional bodies on Monday as well. 

“I think no, because the sea conditions are too difficult. But we can never abandon this hope,” said provincial fire Commander Roberto Fasano. 

Italy is a major destination for migrant smugglers, specifically traffickers from the Libyan shores and Turkey. According to the UN, “ arrivals from the Turkish route accounted for 15% of the 105,000 migrants who arrived on Italian shores last year, with nearly half of those fleeing from Afghanistan.”

Potential refugees from Turkey have been known to take risky journeys through the Mediterranean to avoid Greece, where authorities have been pushing back on migrant entry. 

The EU’s Frontex border agency confirmed on Saturday that they saw the migrant ship heading for the Calabrian coast, and Italian authorities were immediately notified. While the ship was initially reported to look overcrowded, there were no reports of danger. 

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After boat remains were found on the shores near Crotone, Frontex declared a rescue operation to search for survivors. 

“It was impossible to conduct any possible maneuver to get close (to the migrant ship) or to carry out a rescue due to the sea conditions. We always have to consider that rescues carried out by institutional rescue teams must avoid putting at risk the lives of the rescuers while they are trying to rescue others,” Interior Minister Matteo Piatedosi said. 

Firefighter Inspector Giuseppe Larosa said the “first rescue crews to arrive were devastated by how many children had drowned, and observed that the bodies of the dead had scratches all over them, as if they had tried to hang onto the boat to save themselves.”

“It was a spine-chilling scene, the reaction of the survivors haunted [me]. The thing that struck me the most was their silence. The terror in their eyes and the fact that they were mute. Silent,” Larosa stated. 

Rescue efforts are currently still being made to account for all 170 passengers of the vessel.

Astroworld Victims’ Families Reject Travis Scott’s Offer To Cover Funeral Costs 

Travis Scott’s offer to pay for the funeral costs of Astroworld victims has been rejected by half of the bereaved families. One of them is the family of nine-year-old Ezra Blount, who was the youngest of the 10 victims who lost their lives from the Texas music festival. 

Scott made the offer last week after multiple lawsuits against him, his team, livenation, and others involved in the festival were filed. A lawyer for the family of 14-year-old John Hilgert responded to the offer recently to the media: 

“The gesture is demeaning and inappropriate. Of all the things this case is about, the cost of the funeral is the least of any concern. This family is set on making change, and ensuring this never happens at a concert again.” 

On Friday November 5th, a crowd surge occurred during Scott’s set at Astroworld. There were around 50,000 people attending the festival in Houston’s NRG Park Complex. 

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Ten individuals have now lost their lives due to the surging that occurred at the event, the oldest of which was just 27-years-old. Blount died nine days after the concert after being placed in a medically induced coma due to the severity of his injuries. 

Scott’s lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, wrote to the nine-year-old’s family the day after the funeral, offering to pay for the entire service. 

“Travis is devastated by the tragedy that occurred at the Astroworld Festival and grieves for the families whose loved ones died or were injured. Travis is committed to doing his part to help the families who have suffered and begin the long process of healing in the Houston community. Toward that end, Travis would like to pay for the funeral expenses for Mr Blount’s son,” the letter read.

The family’s lawyer, Bob Hilliard, immediately declined the offer on behalf of the Blount family with a letter:

“I have no doubt Mr. Scott feels remorse. His journey ahead will be painful. He must face and hopefully see that he bears some of the responsibility of this tragedy.” 

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Other families have called out Scott, and claimed that the rapper’s offer was simply to repair his public image, and if he actually cared about his fans, this wouldn’t have happened in the first place. 

Philip Corboy, the lawyer for the families of Jacob Jurinek and Franco Patino, 21-year-old best friends who were at the concert together, said Scott’s approach to make amends through his legal team leaves the impression “that all he’s trying to do is lessen the public outcry against him.”

“If he’s trying to impress upon the families that he’s sincere and has concern for them and realize that funerals can be expensive, what Soctt’s team did is not the way to do it,” Corboy continued.

“You don’t get a piece of paper in the mail from a lawyer in Beverly Hills who says he represents Travis Scott. These families are raw right now; that lacks any personal touch.”

Tony Buzbee, who represents the family of Axel Acosta (21), also publicly questioned Scott’s motives in choosing to make the announcement that he would pay for the funeral costs through a “press release that everyone could see.” 

“He says he feels sorry for them but he’s quick to say it wasn’t his fault. He’s no different than any defendant pointing fingers to someone else. They don’t want funeral expenses from him. Whatever we get from him we’re going to get through the court system,” Buzbee exclaimed.