London based filmmaker Dorothy Allen-Pickard created The Masses as a visceral and empathetic portrayal of three neighbour’s devotion to their respective religions: Islam, Christianity and Football.
Down an industrial estate in South Bermondsey there lies Millwall Football Stadium, Baitul Aziz Mosque and the
Christ Apostolic Gospel Church. Every month, these venues fill up with masses of people who come to worship
three very different religions. And yet, they are all on a search for something similar.
This film explores how three different individuals practice their own form of worship in public and in private,
through rituals and emotions. It looks at how we form a collective identity, the importance of songs, crowds, idols, objects and myths, and why ‘believing’ is coming back.
Micky, 42, lifelong Millwall fan
Micky moved to South Bermondsey in his 30s
from Kent and has worked as a salesman for
years, earning just enough to cover the cost of a
season ticket and his mortgage. He has attended
almost every Millwall game for the past 20 years.
Some of the other fans he used to drink with
were caught up in racist violence, but Micky tries
to steer clear of these types. As the Millwall fan
on the board, he now promotes Millwall amongst
the local community and takes his children to the
game each month.
Amed, 49, British-Bangladeshi Muslim
Amed has a degree in business, runs both an Indian
and a Sushi restaurant, and is a father to three
children. He spent the first 3 years of his life in
Bangladesh, then moved to South-East London and
has never left. His children went to the same local
state school he attended, where his wife now
teaches physicals. He has afforded them many
freedoms he did not have as a boy. While in many
ways he has a liberal attitude and is surrounded by
people from all different backgrounds, he is
conservative in other respects, for example
speaking against LGBT+ education in schools in the
Mosque services. He is an active member of his
community, volunteering at the Mosque every
Friday and also engaging with Southwark Cathedral
to create inter-religious ties. Since Brexit he has
experienced growing Islamophobic abuse that
echoes what he experienced in the early 70s.
Gabriel, 29, a British-Nigerian Christian
Gabriel moved from Lagos to the Ledbury estate in
Bermondsey aged 8. He was mischievous as a child
and hung out with all types in school, including
Millwall fans. With the support of his family and the
Church community he’s now straightened out and
works in Estates, and has recently bought a flat and
got engaged. He is the life and soul of his
friendship group, and is well integrated in the local
church community, acting as Youth Leader, although
he doesn’t always agree with their more orthodox
beliefs. Even though they may disagree on several
matters and practice Christianity in different ways,
he always feels he best belongs at Church and over
the years he has built a very personal connection to
Allen-Pickard << I grew up around the corner from The Den and used to play for Millwall Girls as a kid. On Saturdays I would watch the fans parade down our street and on Sundays it was a very different crowd clustering around the Christ Apostolic Church and Baitul Aziz Mosque.
With THE MASSES I want to celebrate these different South-East London cultures that live side-by-side. Right now, I
feel it’s crucial to tell stories about our crossovers and commonalities. These organisations and communities have
worked so hard to challenge their former negative reputations and poor relations. Nothing’s perfect, but it’s a hell of
a lot better than it was and there’s never been a more pressing time to celebrate it. >>