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USA, 2008, 80 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Documentary, Music, Political, Social Issues
Program: Documentary FilmsLanguage: Arabic, English English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Jackie Reem Salloum
Producer: Jackie Reem SalloumEditor: Jackie Reem SalloumPrincipal Cast: Suhell Nafar
When New York–based filmmaker Jackie Reem Salloum first heard the driving beat of “Meen Erhabi” (“Who’s the Terrorist?”) coming from her radio, she didn’t realize it would lead her on a journey to a battlefield on the other side of the world—albeit one composed of makeshift stages and crude recording studios. The song was a hit for DAM (Da Arabian MCs), inspired by the bootleg CDs of Tupac Shakur and Public Enemy to form the first-ever Palestinian hip-hop group in the West Bank.
Inspired in turn, Salloum makes her feature debut with Slingshot Hip Hop, a fast-paced, animation-laced documentary providing an insider’s view of Palestinian rap (indeed, some of the camerawork is done by the artists themselves) at the moment of its emergence in response to the frustrations over the police barricades and outbreaks of street violence that have shaped the daily life of a generation. Along the way, we meet such up-and-coming stars of the movement as PR (Palestinian Rapperz) and Mahmoud Shalabi, as well as female performers like Arapeyat and Sabreena Da Witch, who share with us their stories as well as their songs. We experience the chagrin when the PR frontmen miss their chance to perform with their heroes, DAM, because they are trapped behind checkpoints just a few miles from the concert venue. And we’re shaken after DAM visits a refugee camp to teach some eager teenagers the fundamentals of rap—only to find they’ve been imprisoned on trumped-up charges following an impromptu attempt to put on a show.
Slingshot Hip Hop is ultimately a testament to the power of music to heal wounds and cross boundaries—be they political or personal, cultural or spiritual. “How could they expect us not to love hip hop?” exclaims DAM’s leader, Tamer Nafar. How indeed.
In cooperation with Spring International Language Center
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