Aladdin Benberna is an independent filmmaker based in east London, and a former Fight for Peace member who has been producing films for Fight for Peace for over three years. His most recent project, ‘The Bluebox in Newham: Home of Champions’ is in its final stages of production, and is supported by the National Lottery funded as part of Newham Heritage Month.

We caught up with Aladdin to find out more about the project, what the process has been like and why he thinks telling the story of Fight for Peace is so important.

“The Bluebox in Newham: Home of Champions’ is a film about Fight for Peace, its origins and how it started. It’s a timeline of the entire project from when it started in 2000 in Brazil to present day in 2024.

We’re using the values of Fight for Peace to tell that story and take our audience members through that journey. It’s an experience for those who are and are not familiar with the project and the Academy as a whole.

Fight for Peace is not your ordinary boxing gym, and equally it’s not your ordinary youth club – it’s a mix of both but there’s a lot more to it. This entire gym and this building – this bluebox in Newham didn’t just appear here, it was a journey that had to be taken before that. This documentary is that story.

The infamous Bluebox in Newham: Home of Champions

When we were storyboarding and building a timeline we wanted to use all the values of Fight for Peace to help us build the narrative – Champion, Inspiring, Courage, Solidarity and Embracing. Those are the values of Fight for Peace and the foundation of this entire project – so we wanted to build the story around that, to lean into that and make something that’s both engaging and informative. 

I’ll be very honest – I’ve done a lot of projects with Fight for Peace and this has by far been the most difficult one so far. Trying to figure out the best way to tell the story and how to edit it has been a challenge, but I didn’t do this by myself – I had a team of five amazing people who all contributed to making this what it is, and I used that to my advantage, asking for support when I needed it and they came through.

Aladdin leads the team in one of many planning sessions back in March

When I hear champions, I don’t hear champions in the ring – I hear champions in life. As much as Fight for Peace has helped create champions in the ring, they’ve also produced some amazing champions in life and we highlight some of these champions. I know for a fact that someone who is going to watch this film is going to walk away thinking, ‘wow I really do have that as a possibility so I want to see how far I can go.’

The very creation of this Academy is insane, the fact it even exists fascinates me. So if you’re an audience member who walks away and is not inspired by the stories, what has happened as a result of being a part of this I have to sit down and have a conversation with you!

I’d love it if those watching are inspired and exposed to what I like to call, ‘endless possibility,’ where they can go out and do whatever they want to do. If I can inspire one person to go out and do something amazing, it’s more than enough for me, and I hope the film does that for those who are watching.

I like the team I’m working with – so my favourite moment of the project as a whole is not so much the filming and the capturing part, but the meetings and get-togethers we had.

Maz, Amet, Aladdin and Zaynab mid-shoot

I didn’t pick the team but I’m very happy with who I was working with so every meeting felt like a link up with a couple of friends – there’s always laughs, there’s always banter, there’s always sharing of experiences – that as a whole has always been a fun experience and I enjoyed it the most. 

I think what makes it so unique is the people who worked on it. We are not people who have done a hundred documentaries in the past – I think this is the first documentary for most of us and that’s what makes it so unique. We as a group made something, we thought ‘this is our project’, and it’s the passion and effort that went into it that made it unique.”

Join us for an exclusive premiere of ‘The Bluebox in Newham: Home of Champions’ at the Fight for Peace Academy on Wednesday 26th June 2024 in celebration of Newham Heritage Month, alongside a special Behind the Scenes film produced by Andrei Gradinar. Keep an eye on our channels for updates, or email if you are interested in attending.

Aladdin shoots interviews with the local community of North Woolwich

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