Talking to Bukky Bakray and Kosar Ali makes me miss my girlhood. Their words shoot out fast like spitfire as they explain to me what being a part of the must-see film of the year means to them. They make profound statements about how hard it can be to tap into their emotions, then they check for affirmation that what they’ve said makes any sense, and it does. They are thoughtful actresses at the beginning of what promises to be fruitful careers.
The three of us and the film’s writer, Theresa Ikoko, sit down over Zoom and it feels like sisterhood made flesh. Our shared experiences of having come of age in London gives us a shorthand that makes space for our conversation to flow without the need to perform.
The film we’ve come together to discuss is Rocks, a dazzling, and now critically-acclaimed, portrayal of a young girl, Shola ‘Rocks’, and her friends as she looks after her younger brother, Emmanuel. Co-written by Claire Wilson and directed by Sarah Gavron, Rocks is insatiable viewing as it’s expertly crafted story marches through London and these girls’ lives with a vigour that forces you revisit your own sun-soaked youth.
While Rocks tackles challenging subject matter, what makes me excited to see it again is the absence of violent trauma. So often when black girls and black women are depicted in coming of age films or films in general, we are sidelined or made to endure a physical and/or sexual violation. In Rocks, however, the focus is on love and sisterhoods; how they are made, maintained but also the circumstances that can jeopardise them. This is a film in which you’ll be safe and want to take your sisters, aunties, mothers and friends to see in the cinema over and over again.