Battle of Soho

Inspired by the closure of Madame Jo Jo's, 'Battle of Soho' addresses gentrification within Soho, surrounding London areas, and other major global cities.

Madame Jo Jo's was world renowned as the home of cabaret, hosting the scene's most notorious acts whilst additionally nurturing the budding performers of tomorrow in its unique, offbeat and extravagant fashion. Despite half a century of enthralling entertainment encompassing Paul Raymond's legacy, Madame Jo Jo's licence was revoked and subsequently closed in November 2014 following a violent incident in what was seen as a draconian move by Westminster Council.

Amidst London's major plans for redevelopment exist the impending threats of closure on a multitude of London's iconic entertainment and social spaces. The resounding impact on performance art and culture is at the heart of 'Battle of Soho''s message.

Not least of the affected is Curzon, Soho. Built in 1912, Soho's acclaimed art house venue offers theatre screenings, premiers, director Q&A's as well as mainstream screenings, though Crossrail development details list Curzon, Soho as a "surface area of interest" for Crossrail's new ticket hall.

Following campaigns, corporate interest, business owners and performers, 'Battle of Soho' documents the poignant current and historic events that are contributing to this - what is named by many - cultural catastrophe.

'Battle of Soho' provides a voice to both the developers and those affected by assessing the extent of the impact this will have on the future of London's entertainment and sub-cultures. The power of collectivism reigns true throughout, demonstrating that although it may be too late to save New York, it is not too late to save London.

  • Aro Korol
    Director
  • Aro Korol
    Writer
  • Johnny Deluxe
    Writer
  • Harriet Exle
    Writer
  • Aro Korol
    Producer
  • Harriet Exle
    Producer
  • TC. Rice
    Producer
  • Stephen Fry
    Key Cast
  • Jenny Runacre
    Key Cast
  • Lindsay Kemp
    Key Cast
  • Jenny Runacre
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 40 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 20, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    250,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    Italy, United Kingdom, United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    2:35.1
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Aro Korol
Distribution Information
  • Associated Artists
    Country: United Kingdom
    Rights: All Rights, Internet, Video on Demand, Pay Per View, Theatrical, Free TV, Paid TV
Director Biography - Aro Korol

Aro Korol is a music video and documentary filmmaker born in Poland, which is where his love for film and media grew. His grandmother worked in the local cinema and he would often sneak in to the projection booth to watch new and classic films such as Gone with the Wind and Some Like It Hot. This early introduction to some of the greatest films contributed to shaping his visual style and he began to experiment with a Super 8 camera at home.

At 19 years, Korol landed his first job in film as a production assistant on Steven Spielberg’s Schindler's List (1993). He made his first professional short film Ca Va (1996), which starred Omar Shariff, whom Aro had met and persuaded to take the role during a bridge festival in Douville, France. With few work opportunities in his native Poland Korol moved to Paris where he lived for 12 years, going on to study film at New York University in 1997. In 2008 Korol moved to London where he started a film and music video production company, The Aro Korol Company Ltd. He had viewed London as the ‘Capital of the World’ and the British people as having a vibrant individuality that New York had been losing while he resided there, this is where the inspiration for Battle of Soho began

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Director Statement

ARO KOROL ON BATTLE OF SOHO

While living in New York Aro observed the closing of iconic venues such as CBGB and began to see the city as a pioneer of gentrification when he came to London. He stated that ‘I have seen this process of gentrification happening everywhere. When a venue as valued as Madame Jojo’s in Soho closes you can’t ignore it, and I could see echoes of the cultural decline in New York reverberating here.’ This sparked in him a desire to document what was happening to the area and how the local community and residents were reacting to these changes. He thought he could put up a mirror to Soho and highlight what was occurring in metropolitan areas around the world.

Following campaigns, corporate interest, business owners and performers, the film documents the poignant current and historic events that are contributing to this - what is named by many - cultural catastrophe. Aro set out to talk to people on both sides of the argument. Interviewees recommended speaking to others and the process evolved organically until he had 58 interviews recorded. He has provided a voice to both the developers and those affected by assessing the extent of the impact this change will have on the future of London's entertainment and sub-cultures.

The film was an opportunity to explore the importance of communities coming together to protect the cultural heritage and identity of an area that they hold dear. Aro wants the film to showcase examples of successful campaigns and encourage audiences that their voice can make a difference and urging them to get involved in the efforts to preserve such areas.

Aro hopes that the film ‘inspires the same passion with audiences as I felt from the individuals I met while making it, as it is through this passion that we can work together to protect a key part of our social identity.’ He believes the power of collectivism reigns true throughout, demonstrating that although it may be too late to save New York, it is not too late to save London.