October 2005. Lozells Road in West Birmingham is a teeming melting pot of races and faces living in one of the most deprived parts of the city. Two friends, Nathaniel and Javed are bonded playstation and music buddies, but unlike many others around them, have actually decided to try and complete their A-Levels. Then, following rumours swirling around local pirate radio stations of a sexual assault of a young Jamaican minor by a shopkeeper at a Black beauty products shop, their worlds change forever. Over the course of a week, ‘Beauty Queens’ becomes the epicentre of increasing tensions and a symbol of disenfranchisement. To make matters worse, the shop is owned by Javed’s uncle. The pair are forced to pick loyalties and take sides normally alien to them. Their world, full of hope and possibility, now looks so much more complicated. The hysteria grows and communities struggle to see reason. Violence erupts. When the dust eventually settles, the question will be… can the scars ever be healed?
Billy is principally a visual artist and filmmaker who makes work primarily about the de-industrialised factory towns of the Black Country, particularly Smethwick, a harsh romanticised setting where thousands of manual labourers were invited in the 1960s. He was selected for a year-long placement in the BBC’s Wonderland department and has subsequently made work including: documentaries for the respected ‘Unreported World’ strand; assistant director to Kevin Macdonald at Ridley Scott Associates on the ‘in a day’ collage films; directing “Year Zero: Black Country”, and “Heaven Hell”, artist films funded by the Arts Council; directing the documentary “The Sikhs of Smethwick” for BBC4.
Billy has been nominated for the Derek Jarman Artist Film award and is developing a TV drama series with Objective Fiction; and directing a feature documentary with Archer’s Mark in Cameroon, amongst other work. He trained at the National Film and Television School where his graduation film, A Miracle in West Brom, won Billy several nominations and awards including the Satyajit Ray award Grierson Best Newcomer and an RTS.
Billy is represented by Curtis Brown for film and TV and United Agents for literary work.
Kurban recently produced the feature film “The Party” staring Kristen Scott-Thomas, Timothy Spall and Cillian Murphy. The film premiered at Berlinale 2017, winning the German Distributors Guild Award. In 2017 Kurban also produced and co-wrote “The Hungry”, an adaptation of Titus Andronicus, for Amazon Studios. In 2016, he produced the world’s first interactive feature film “Late Shift”, which won a BAFTA Cymru in 2018, and co-produced BAFTA nominated “The Pass”, with ‘Notting Hill’ producer Duncan Kenworthy. Prior to that, he worked on “Who is Dayani Cristal”, winner of the Cinematography Award at Sundance 2013, “20,000 Days on Earth” which won Best Direction and Best Editing awards at Sundance 2014.
Kurban previously worked with Rainmark Films and Pulse Films developing projects, including a six part BBC series directed by Steve McQueen due to begin shooting in June 2019. He graduated from the National Film and Television School, where he won the Christie Award for outstanding contribution, and has produced or co-produced multiple award winning short films including BAFTA nominated ORBIT EVER AFTER.