Welcome II the Terrordome
Murders in Sunderland
With its title co-opted from a fierce track by New York rappers Public Enemy, Ngozi Onwurah’s sole feature to date is a rough diamond of 1990s British cinema, a harrowing blast of grungy exploitation. It begins with a haunting prologue set in North Carolina in 1652, where an Ibo family calmly drown themselves rather than succumb to the chains of slavery. It then jumps forward to immerse the viewer in a fetid slum of the near-future – the titular Terrordome – where drugs, crime and racism are as rife as the brutality visited upon the majority black inhabitants by the police.
The first film directed by a black British woman to receive a UK theatrical release, this low-budget yet visually imaginative work was widely derided at the time, but it should be commended for its eyebrow-scorching passion. Moreover, it forges surprising links between near-mythical pasts and imagined futures to provoke prickly questions about contemporary race relations, police brutality and the limits of ‘progress’.