The night before the Ricky Hatton vs. Floyd Mayweather fight
2007 
Digital Video
121 minutes

A ferocious wind whipping up the fire around which eight men are seated. They are about to cook up some lamb and drink a few beers. It is night, somewhere in the countryside, out at sea a storm is brewing, the fire will provide warmth, the fire will cook the food, the men will sit around the fire until the small hours of the morning when the boxing match will begin, they’ll need to drink and talk until then, whilst stoking the fire and cooking the meat and showing their expertise with all things outdoors.

 Out of the darkness English is being spoken in many inflections.  There are glimpses of hands and eyes and movement, all eyes are on the fire, everyone’s hungry but they must wait, they must drink Cisk lager and talk:

we can organise a friendly

advance

left hand side

german shepherds

will eat you

kill bacteria

butter potato

plane crashes

twice

dictator

Macedonia

once

burnt foil

Brixton

salt

more salt

grandmother

ants

ricky hatton

elephant shit

stone roses

you’re still my idol.

 

There is silence, laughter, singing, tension, awkwardness, wit, hunger, thirst, misunderstandings, understandings, there is psychobabble, attempts to bridge gaping chasms, clumsy political referencing and epic story telling. Who these men are and why they are gathered here is never made explicit, no one asks any direct questions and each one of them speaks in his own parables, though it is quickly understood that some of the men are of European extraction, whilst others are men who were born and raised in Africa but are no longer living there. Is this how we communicate? Are we always so clumsy yet so endearing in our attempts to smash artifice and create the possibility for honest connections? It is the European men who feel the pressure to talk after long silences, they are a little maladroit but in their initiative they are winsome too, and so the lamb and potatoes are eaten and the wind continues to blow as we listen to tales from Congo and Serbia, Brixton and Sudan being exchanged on the island of Malta in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. 

Emma Mattei

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