Slingshot Hip Hop

A friend of Janet’s, a writer whom I will refer to as Printfiltrator – the title on her business card; she says she doesn’t like the term journalist  – invited me to go see a film last night at Concordia’s Cinema Politica series. The film was called Slingshot Hip Hop, and it was a remarkable documentary about young Palestinian rap artists living in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. Extremely well-told stories – personal portraits and political history – compelling, no drag, no lag, seemingly effortless storytelling with almost no obvious prompting or leading by the filmmaker.

There were so many great great moments in the film. We start with a look at a group from within Israel, moving to others in the West Bank, and then we meet a group from Gaza. By this time we’ve met some female rap artists – two who perform, one who has to back out of a performance because her extended family is against the idea of a young woman performing on stage. This latter woman is the cousin of one of the rappers that we meet from the outset. His introduction of her went more or less like “Arabs [as a race] have it the worst in the world right now. Who in the world has it worse than the Arabs? The Arab women.” Yes, go see the film.

So after the female rappers, we meet a group from Gaza. They perform live for the first time in what looks like a community theatre (or certainly in a theatre full of community members ranging from aunts and uncles to young rap fans – it’s clear this event is about solidarity). Heading to the performance, one of the rappers says to the camera “I feel… I can’t even remember my name right now.” They’re nervous as hell, but when the rappers in other cities see the footage from the concert, they respond with comments like “this is their first performance? They’re fearless! Look at them!” Afterwards, and this is a good set up by the filmmakers, the kids call each other. This is the first time they’ve met and maybe they’re older than I think but it’s moving to hear them say to one another “I would be honoured to share a stage with you” (seemingly unprompted). The cutting between phone conversations was also cleverly conceived – giving a sense that all three conversations were happening in real-time and simultaneously.

Great film. Can’t detail all the positive things I have to say about it. Just make sure you see it. Thanks Printfiltrator for the heads up.

(Just found a YouTube trailer; haven’t watched it yet – might cover some of the parts I mentioned above, if so I probably misquoted. Apologies.)

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