When his hometown of Hull is named the 2017 UK City of Culture, the eminent filmmaker Sean McAllister is invited to direct the opening ceremony. He uses the occasion to take stock of the city, which was once a major port. Little now remains of its former glory, according to his parents. Maybe this year of culture will change things for the better.
McAllister follows the likable and enthusiastic warehouse worker Steve, a hip-hop lover for whom Hull’s year of culture has spawned the opportunity to take his “beats bus” to poor neighborhoods and help young people make their own hip-hop music. In doing so, he’s both fulfilling his own dream and enabling the children he meets to make theirs come true. Steve’s own circumstances are far from easy: he remains deeply in debt, however hard he works. Nevertheless, McAllister doesn’t make a tragedy of A Northern Soul. Steve’s personal struggles only put extra weight behind the energy that he constantly devotes to inspiring other people. The small differences he makes in kids’ lives give cause for hope.