Urban Hymn

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Urban Hymn
Urban Hymn Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Caton-Jones
Written byNick Moorcroft
Produced byJohn Sachs
Andrew Berg
Neil Chordia
StarringLetitia Wright
Shirley Henderson
Isabella Laughland
Ian Hart
Steven Mackintosh
CinematographyDenis Crossan
Edited byIstván Király
Music byTom Linden
Dashisha Global Film Production and
Eclipse Films
in association with Powderkeg Pictures
Distributed byBulldog Film Distribution
Release date
  • 11 September 2015 (2015-09-11) (TIFF)
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget£2 million

Urban Hymn is a 2015 British coming-of-age drama directed by Michael Caton-Jones, written by Nick Moorcroft, and starring Letitia Wright, Shirley Henderson, Isabella Laughland, Ian Hart, and starring Steven Mackintosh.


Set against the backdrop of the 2011 England riots, the film follows a neglected and volatile female offender, Jamie, who possesses an amazing singing voice and is torn between her loyalties toward her inspiring, unconventional care worker, Kate, and her possessive and volatile best friend, Leanne.[1]



On 7 July 2014, Dashishah Global Film Production and Eclipse Films in association with Powderkeg Pictures announced that Caton-Jones would direct the film with Shirley Henderson starring opposite 2012 Screen International Star of Tomorrow, Letitia Wright. Principal photography commenced on 22 September 2014 with filming taking place in Richmond, Twickenham, Morden and former HMP prison Latchmere House in South-East London. Dashishah fully financed the production through their film production company which is based in Geneva, Switzerland. The film wrapped shooting on 23 October 2014 after a rigorous 28-day schedule, filming upwards of 13 scenes a day. The semi-autobiographical film was based upon Nick Moorcroft's formative years growing up in Essex. Billy Bragg's initiative, Jail Guitar Doors, which donates guitars to prison inmates also features in the film.[2]


The film was selected for the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016, and received its world premiere in the 'City To City' section.[3] Urban Hymn was also officially selected for the Busan International Film Festival, Asia's largest film festival held in South Korea in October 2015. On 19 February 2016 the Glasgow Film Festival held a gala screening for the film where it was hailed as a powerful social realist drama and resulted in many favourable reviews.[4] The film was selected for the 46th edition of the Giffoni film festival held in Italy and screened in the Generator +18 section on 21 July 2016. On 25 July the festival jury awarded Urban Hymn the Gryphon Award for Best Film.[5]

It was reported by Screen International at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival that Urban Hymn had been picked up for theatrical distribution in the U.K and Ireland in selected cinemas nationwide.[6] The film was released in cinemas in U.K and Ireland on Friday 30 September 2016. Urban Hymn opened in select cinemas throughout the UK on 30 September 2016, to largely strong reviews. It currently holds a 60% Fresh rating on review site Rotten Tomatoes,[7] based on 25 reviews. The film opened in select cinemas in America on 12 May 2017. It was New York Times critics pick of the week.[8] The film has currently sold to 10 territories across the world, including Canada, Spain, Italy, Japan, Scandinavia, Turkey, South-Korea, Japan and North America.

The film was added to Netflix on 3 July 2017.[9] It was announced in Variety that the film would also be available On Demand platforms including AT&T U-verse, Comcast, DirecTV, Spectrum, Amazon Instant, iTunes, Dish Network, Vubiquity and Vudu.[10]


Toronto Film Festival Director, Piers Handling, called Urban Hymn "a searing and moving portrait of a pair of disenfranchised teen girls, grounded by a sharp script and sensitive, naturalistic actors".[11] Evening Standard film critic David Sexton wrote "This film is a turning point for director Michael Caton-Jones" and "develops real power in the relationship between Jamie and Kate and it directly addresses the intractable problem of the dispossessed."[12] The Guardian wrote that Urban Hymn was "Heart-warming social realism, with a great couple of lead performances (from Isabella Laughland and Letitia Wright)".[13] Alan Hunter of Screen International reviewed the film favorably saying "The appeal of Urban Hymn lies in a heartrending, human story that is told with care and concern".[14] Stephen Dalton, from The Hollywood Reporter wrote it was "hugely refreshing to see a rare British movie whose key cast is almost entirely female, with a rising young black talent as the main star."[15] The head of the Glasgow Film Festival stated that "Shirley Henderson gives one of the finest performances of her career as Kate in Urban Hymn". Italian Film Critic, Minerva Romana, awarded the film five stars at the Giffoni Film Festival where it won Best Film, hailing it as a beautiful and profound drama.[16] Total Film and The Daily Express gave the film glowing 4 star reviews.[17][18] Cassam Looch from Hey U Guys film website reviewed the film favorably calling it "One of the most beautiful, heartbreaking and tender films of the year".[19] Mike McCahill of The Guardian awarded the film 3 stars calling it "a mixed bag, but one that comes good in its closing stretch, working its way towards a place of quiet power".[20] The Los Angeles Times called it a "British Tear-jerker which hits all the high notes".[21]


On 14 October 2016, Letitia Wright and Isabella Laughland were both longlisted for the British Independent Film Awards Most Promising Newcomer Award for their performances in Urban Hymn.[22] On 21 October 2016, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Urban Hymn producers, John Sachs, Andrew Berg and Neil Chordia were longlisted for the 2016 Breakthrough Producer of The Year award for Urban Hymn.[23] On 1 November 2016, Letitia Wright was nominated for the Most Promising Newcomer Award at the British Independent Film Awards.[24] Soon after she was cast as Shuri in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, both of which stand amongst the highest-grossing films of all time.


Sony Music released the original soundtrack on 28 October 2016.[25]

1."White Riot"Joe Strummer Mick JonesThe Clash2:40
2."Standing In the Right Place"BelarusBelarus2:57
3."I Keep Faith"Billy BraggBilly Bragg4:16
4."Sinking to the Bottom"BelarusBelarus3:02
5."Don't Break My Heart"UB40Urban Hymn Choir3:01
6."Open the Door to Your Heart"Donnie ElbertDarrell Banks3:41
7."Faithful"Jamie JosephJamie Joseph3:04
8."You Forgot How To Love"Patti LaBellePatti LaBelle & the BlueBelles2:43
9."Standing In The Right Place"BelarusLetitia Wright & Urban Hymn Choir3:44
10."Sinking To The Bottom Parts 1&2"BelarusUrban Hymn Choir4:57
12."Feel"BelarusUrban Hymn Choir3:07
13."Car Crash"BelarusUrban Hymn Choir2:37
14."In The End It's Easy"BelarusBelarus2:41
15."Shining Shore"BelarusUrban Hymn Choir3:18
17."Reaction"BelarusUrban Hymn Choir2:42
18."What Are You?"TZYTZY FT Tinchy Stryder2:24
19."Mash Up The Dance"Linden & ValentineLinden & Valentine Feat. Renee Alleyne2:50


  1. ^ "'Rob Roy' Director Michael Caton-Jones to Take on 'Urban Hymn'". hollywoodreporter.com. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Set Report: Urban Hymn". Screendaily.com. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Sandra Bullock's 'Our Brand Is Crisis,' Robert Redford's 'Truth' to Premiere at Toronto". Variety. 18 August 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Urban Hymn". Film.list.co.uk. 22 February 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  5. ^ Nexta. "Urban Hymn e tutti i premi del Giffoni Film Festival 2016". Film.it. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Michael Caton Jones's 'Urban Hymn' scores UK deal". Screendaily.com. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Urban Hymn". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  8. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (10 May 2017). "Review: In 'Urban Hymn,' Hardened Youth and an Angelic Voice". Nytimes.com.
  9. ^ "Urban Hymn". Onnetflix.co.uk. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (15 April 2017). "Shirley Henderson's 'Urban Hymn' Set for May 12 Release in U.S. (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.com. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  11. ^ [1] Archived 6 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ [2] Archived 26 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Shoard, Presented by Henry Barnes with Catherine; Smith, Nigel M. (15 September 2015). "The Guardian film show live! at the Toronto film festival: Colonia, Urban Hymn and The Family Fang - audio reviews". Theguardian.com.
  14. ^ "'Urban Hymn': Review". Screendaily.com. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  15. ^ "'Urban Hymn': TIFF Review". Hollywoodreporter.com. 11 September 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Giffoni Film Festival 2016". Close-up.it.
  17. ^ "Movies to watch this week at the cinema: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Under the Shadow, Swiss Army Man, more..." Gamesradar.com. 26 September 2016.
  18. ^ Hunter, Allan (30 September 2016). "Film reviews: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children and Amanda Knox". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  19. ^ "Urban Hymn Review". Heyuguys.com. 26 September 2016.
  20. ^ McCahill, Mike (29 September 2016). "Urban Hymn review – UK riots drama learns to sing a better tune". Theguardian.com.
  21. ^ "British tearjerker 'Urban Hymn' hits all the high notes". Los Angeles Times. 11 May 2017.
  22. ^ "BIFA Most Promising Newcomer 2016 Long List - News - Awards 2016 - BIFA". Bifa.film.
  23. ^ "British Independent Film Awards 2016: The Breakthrough Producers Long List". Hollywoodreporter.com. 20 October 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  24. ^ "Urban Hymn - BIFA". Bifa.film. 11 October 2016.
  25. ^ "Competitions - Film News - Film-News.co.uk - Movie News & Reviews". Film-news.co.uk.

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