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THE FURIOUS FORCE OF RHYMES
GENRE: DOCUMENTARY FEATURE



This film is a story about Hip-Hop as WORLDWIDE protest music: its journey around the globe, how it started, where it started, why it started, what it came from, who created it.

The film focuses in six different countries, each revealing a new aspect of the music and a set of social themes: the USA, France, Germany, Israel/Palestine, Senegal and Colombia.

Hip-Hop culture (music, dance, graffiti) is the central character, and the film tells the story of its birth in New York, its voyage around the planet and where it is today. As we follow Hip-Hop's world journey, we meet the rich and diverse people who express themselves through this art form. And as we meet these people we learn about the cultures they come from and the social issues - contemporary and historical - that are the driving forces behind the music they create.

It is this multi-national look at Hip-Hop on a global level that distinguishes the film from all other Hip-Hop documentaries made to date. Although there have been localized pieces about Hip-Hop we are lacking a film which deals with the “globality” of the culture and what it means to have arguably the first ever worldwide protest music.

Our story begins at the beginning: in the South Bronx, NEW YORK in the 1970's. Through an energetic mix of archival footage, stills, interviews, narration and music we recreate the simultaneous experiences of urban devastation and creative exuberance that led to the birth of Rap music.

Visual montages will carry us from one place to another: from a block party in a Bronx housing project, we will follow early Hip-Hop pioneer Africa Bambaata, circa 1982 as he boards an Air France jet at JFK, touches down at Charles De Gaulle Aeroport, and passes the Eiffel tower on his way to a concert venue where he introduces Hip-Hop culture to the French nation.

In France we see Hip-Hop adopted instantly and with a passion. Today France is the largest producer of domestic Hip-Hop outside of the United States. Why? In the late 20th century, the country had developed a large minority population of African immigrants (both Black and Arab) who found themselves struggling below the poverty level in public housing projects. This new demographic of the once white nation immediately connected to the black street music from the States.

Today the situation in these neighborhoods, which the filmmakers will document with unprecedented access, has deteriorated sub-stantially, to the point that is one of the biggest social issues facing the country. And Hip-Hop is the music that directly confronts this problem, both as an artistic medium of expression and as tool of social commentary. The French chapter concludes with dramatic footage of the violent riots that have raged across the country in recent years.

In Germany there are some rappers who have flown in the face of German society's post-WWII efforts to eradicate discrimination. These rappers have attacked everyone from homosexuals, women, and Jews to non-whites and expressed ideologies ranging from Islamic Jihad to Aryanism. How is the music of minority liberation being used as the music of intolerance?

In Israel/Palestine we encounter a unique situation in that there are
two ideologically divergent schools of Hip-Hop co-existing: one Jewish and Zionist, the other Arab and anti-Zionist. How do these clashing views meet in the same concert venues and streets and how do they interact with each other and their audience?

In Senegal African rappers eloquently express the myriad of difficult
issues on both a continental and a local level. Here we will also explore the link between traditional African music and dance and modern Hip-Hop music and the West African slave trade.

In Colombia, how did African slaves manage to keep their musical traditions alive through several centuries of suppression in the Americas? And how do these traditions inform the rhythmic and oral basis of Hip-Hop today? How does the "War on Drugs" reflect in Hip-Hop and effect poor people? What role does the "War on Drugs" play in U.S. involvement in Latin American affairs?

All of the films stories will be told with a combination of interviews, musical and dance performances, montages set to lyrical texts, archival elements, and occasional narration. Certain historical sequences - such as the early days of Hip-Hip and the history of the African Slave trade - will be depicted using combinations of animation and motion graphic techniques.

Even in cases where archival footage or stills are used, the editing and/or the camera moves on stills will be done in a way that creates a sense of flow, with the goal of creating the impression that this is not just a random montage of available materials, but a sequence specially produced for the film. Throughout the goal is to use images to link from scene-to-scene and place-to-place, so that there is a feeling of continuous natural movement from the first shot to the last.

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Essential to this project is the idea that Hip-Hop is a form of
protest music
: an expression of grievance, a demand for social change, a challenge to existing mores; that the people who created and create it are the underdogs raging against the machine. We are not interested in looking at Hip-Hop as just the latest pop music fashion - which it also is - but as a mirror that reflects the real problems of our societies. Therefore this documentary spans two genres: it is both cultural and sociological.

A longer demo is available at:
http://www.joshuaatesh.com/partners/SERGE_Demo_1x0.html