Directed by: #StephanPierreMitchell
Starring: Ahmed Hussain Siddiqi
Deleted Movie Review
Instead of video games becoming a series on Netflix, I would like to see Ken Loach’s enduring film I, Daniel Blake turned into a series of true-life mini docs. Real stories of Britain’s poor getting a twenty-minute slot would be a great start in uncovering the tragedy that so many people and families are living with in a “first world” country in 2020. The sad reality would be that we would need about a million seasons. However, I have the perfect debut episode: Stephan Pierre Mitchell’s outstanding short documentary Deleted.
Starring Ahmed Hussain Siddiqi, a fifty-something divorcee who’s about to be made homeless by the Department of Work and Pensions. After having his benefits suspended for late payment, Ahmed falls into the lower echelons of our unforgiving system, one that is computerised and optimised to be uncaring. Ahmed tells us about his experience, how he would change it, and how anyone can become a victim.
Movies about #homelessness have a built-in layer of pathos from which to grow, however, there is also an immense sense of duty tell a story without succumbing to the tragedy and being buried by the large social issues. Director Stephan Pierre Mitchell treats Ahmed with intense scrutiny, utilising a plethora of closeups, various angles and shots, as if asking us to inspect him like we work for the DWP. The result is a phenomenally heartbreaking and visceral experience of what governmental apathy can do to someone’s humanity. Ahmed switches from bolstered confidence about getting himself out of his situation, to breaking down at the gruelling reality for so many others across the UK. His one-man army faces a formidable foe, whose bureaucracy is as lethal as tear gas.
Much like other filmmakers who have tackled themes of homelessness in the UK, Stephan Pierre Mitchell comes at it from the human level. Deleted could have been a documentary made up of tens of thousands of similar stories, forming a patchwork of misery. However, the potency of one is far more powerful. As the old adage goes; one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. And it is the statistics that really gives the movie its wider scale of devastation. We are shown terrifying facts such as: nearly 600 homeless people died in 2018, and over 90,000 evictions were caused by the DWP’s late payment system. If Marvel are looking for their next villain now that Thanos is gone, they should start looking at Westminster’s admin office.
There is beauty and hope to be found in Deleted too, though, with Ahmed waxing lyrical about the strength of community, camaraderie, and even music. Whilst his struggle and journey is full of turmoil there are also moments of friendship (such as neighbours who make sure he’s eaten). The narration is key to this documentary’s success and through the words spoken by Ahmed in a myriad of different tones and emotional states, we are able to find our own humanity and treat him how he would have wanted - as a person.
Watch the Short Movie Trailer