Last night the Open Cinema film club at St Mungo’s Recovery College Rushworth St welcomed boxer, writer and actor Johnny Harris for a very special screening of his incredible film Jawbone (dir. Thomas Napper, 2017). People using St Mungo’s services from all across London filled the screening room and made a fantastic atmosphere for what was a memorable night.
Jawbone tells the story of former youth boxing champion Jimmy McCabe (Johnny Harris), a man in search of hope but looking in all the wrong places. When he hits rock bottom he turns to his childhood boxing club and the only family he has left: gym owner Bill (Ray Winstone) corner man Eddie (Michael Smiley) and promoter Joe (Ian McShane). Back in training, years after anyone thought he was a contender, he risks his life, as he tries to stand tall and regain his place in the world.
In the Q&A Johnny revealed that the film is heavily auto-biographical. Johnny dropped out of school at 13 and fell into homelessness and addiction but was also a champion boxer. He was so open and generous during a Q&A that lasted over an hour, discussing addiction, recovery and the challenges of writing, making and starring in this amazing film. As Emily Catlow, the coordinator of recovery college, said after the screening: ‘It was such a great evening and I am very sure that [Johnny] connected with and inspired every single person in that room. It was the highlight of the Recovery College term and will be talked about for years to come’.
As with all Open Cinema events the screening became about so much more than the thrill of meeting a star of the screen. It was all about connecting over shared experiences and a shared enthusiasm for the power of film to highlight all the struggles, challenges and joy of life. Jawbone and the discussion that followed highlighted the incredible struggles people go through and the heroism of those go out of their way to help and support others. There were many powerful and cathartic moments in the film and the post-film discussion. We’d like to extend a special thanks to Johnny, listening to everyones questions, stories and opinions.
We’d also especially like to thank everyone who attended for being such a great audience! Johnny commented many times that the questions being asked were fantastic. As we look forward to 2018, we can’t wait for many more evenings like last Wednesday.
Will Swinburne, Open Cinema Network Manager