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USA, 2013, 75 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: African-American, Coming of Age, Crime, Documentary
Program: DocumentaryLanguage: English
DIRECTOR: Lotfy Nathan
Producer: Eric Blair, Tom Colley, Taylor Gillespie, John Kassab, Lotfy NathanEditor: Thomas NilesScreenwriter: Lotfy NathanCinematographer: Lotfy Nathan
Lotfy Nathan’s debut film is a documentary about Baltimore’s notorious urban dirt-bike gangs. The bikers—who gather from all parts of the city in groups over 100 bikes strong—roar through city streets trying to pop the perfect vertical wheelie. That quintessential move is known as “12 o’clock.” Though the groups’ rabble-rousing is illegal, a no-chase policy leaves police powerless to stop the bikes from roaring through traffic. A cat-and-mouse dynamic results as the cops employ every tool from helicopters to Tasers against the bikers.
The film shadows 13-year-old Pug, raised in Baltimore’s rough Westside neighborhood, who idolizes the 12 O’Clock Boyz and will do anything to assimilate into their ranks. Pug displays the eagerness of a young Boy Scout to pledge not to a Boy Scout’s code, but to a risky lifestyle that’s representative of the many divides seen in Baltimore, one of America’s most dangerous and economically depressed cities.
Nathan’s stunning footage took over three years to film and compile, and the result a gentle choreography adding an almost dancelike grace to the roughshod nature of the bikes and their riders. Action-packed video of the riders in their element is transformed by Nathan into a dreamscape, narrated by the riders, their fans, and their opponents, making for a fascinating look at an urban subculture.
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