WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY HENRY BLAKE
STARRING CONRAD KHAN, ASHLEY MADEKWE & HARRIS DICKINSON
COUNTY LINES, the highly acclaimed debut feature from director Henry Blake, premiered at the 2019 BFI London Film Festival. Inspired by true events, COUNTY LINES is a vivid and moving coming-of-age film about a young mother and her 14-year old son who is groomed into involvement in county lines, the lethal nationwide drug dealing networks which exploit vulnerable children into trafficking drugs, mainly heroin and crack cocaine, from urban areas to rural or market towns or coastal locations.
The film introduces Conrad Khan (Black Mirror) who, in his first lead film role, gives a compelling performance as unhappy teenager Tyler. Ashley Madekwe (Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Revenge) stars as Tyler’s mother Toni, and rising star Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, Postcards from London, The King’s Man) plays Simon, a ruthless county lines operator. The cast includes Marcus Rutherford whose screen debut in Obey won him a Most Promising Newcomer nomination at the 2018 BIFAs.
Writer/director Henry Blake based the film on his own experience; he has been a youth worker for 11 years and was first exposed to county lines back in 2015 while working in an East London PRU (a Pupil Referral Unit for children excluded from attending mainstream school). His first-hand knowledge from working with young people already taking part or at real risk of county lines exploitation, has enabled him to create an authentic film that beautifully captures the harsh reality so many vulnerable young people are going through all over the UK.
County lines criminal networks have increasingly been in the news over the last two years as the recruitment of children has grown at a worryingly fast rate. The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates that up to 10,000 children in the UK are now exploited by or forced to work for drugs gangs and that there are now more than 2,000 individual deal line numbers in operation. Police forces, the government, charities and academia are working to combat and disrupt the threat, which can have traumatic and long-lasting consequences for those exploited.