Our Dummy Clap Film Festival, in partnership with the English Department at Medgar Evers College, celebrated Hip-Hop through film and the moving image. Audience members were given the opportunity to watch classic films, shorts and documentaries followed by discussions with famed directors, editors and creators from within the film industry. With intellectual discussions and critiques that honed in on these films’ cultural relevance, their significance to Hip-Hop and the filmmaking process in today’s digital age, the film festival surely inspired the next generation of creative minds and filmmakers.
Beyond Beats and Rhymes – Part 2 began the film festival with a discussion moderated by Timothy Welbeck of Huffington Post with Trisha Bell, Founder of Artso, and rapper, Stephen A. Levite. This discussion dug into the original documentary Beyond Beats and Rhymes to bring out what has changed within Hip-Hop from when this film came out in 2006 to present time. Circling on the controversy of how women continue to be negatively represented in Hip-Hop, Trisha Bell brought in her perspective as a woman and said “I don’t see a lot of Hip-Hop that tells a young girl that she is beautiful”. This panel set the tone for the kind of intellectual discussions that would fill the film festival.
Following was the screening of the short documentary 86-32 and a discussion with its two time Emmy Award winning Director, Randy Wilkins, moderated by Nikon Kwantu. The film tells the story of how boxer, Roy Jones, suffered one of the most controversial losses in Olympic history. Randy discussed the process in telling the story that would best reflect the truth of what had occurred and the difficulties he experienced in getting to that truth. Film-making is no easy task, but when there is a story to be told the filmmaker does his or her best to tell their story through thorough research and interviews.
Next up was the Style Wars Discussion with award winning film producer Sam Pollard who was editor on Style Wars, moderated by legendary writer, Greg Tate. Style Wars is considered by many to be the first film that captured the pure representation of the Hip-Hop culture during its earliest stages. Sam discussed his experience in putting this film together without realizing the immense impact it would have worldwide and on the Hip-Hop landscape. “There’s gotta be resistance. For the artists there was a resistance.” said Mr. Pollard of the New York City artists in Style Wars and Hip-Hop being thought of as a fad back in the 80’s. Hearing about the historical context of this classic film first hand from its editor is not something that happens everyday and we are glad we were able to bring this experience to our audience.
There was then a full screening of the classic film, New Jack City, followed by a discussion with notable Hip-Hop Journalist, Bill Adler, Jamie Hector from The Wire and DJ Benhameen, co-host and DJ on The Combat Jack Show, moderated by film Director, Lenny Bass. This year marks New Jack City’s 25th year anniversary and so it made sense to begin this discussion on the film’s relevance to today’s society compared to when it was released. Conversations amongst the panelists took profound turns on the crack epidemic, character representation compared to reality, its influence on the creation of similar films, race in Hollywood, the impression the film had on their lives and even the significance of the movie’s soundtrack. “It (New Jack City) informed you about what was going on in the neighborhood”, Jamie said when describing how New Jack City inspired future writers and directors. To be able to dissect a film into all these details and have a full blown discussion goes to show the cultural, societal and personal impact of this film.
The cast of Money and Violence closed out the film festival by hosting a Master Class. Cast members, Moses Verneau, Rene Guercy, Kendu Hammond, Ace General and Chris Styles discussed the growth of their Youtube series to now being backed by TIDAL and Lions Gate. Director, Moses Verneau, explained his strong vision in how he wants his show to be received by his audience. “It’s not a true story, but it’s based on reality”. He encourages his actors to understand the situation of the scenes before learning their lines so their character portrayals can be as real as possible. The cast got personal with the audience when sharing their ups and downs of their learning experiences, leaving the audience with little nuggets of encouragement and inspiration for their pursuit in the film industry.
The Dummy Clap Film Festival successfully wrapped up Day 2 of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival with a series of films and discussions that we hope have inspired those wanting to find their place in the film industry. There are always stories waiting to be told, especially within our communities, and many ways to help in telling these stories. Whether it be in writing, directing, editing and even music placement, we hope to have fired up your interest in the film industry.