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DARKER SIDE OF BLACK

UK, 1993 (MIFF 1994, Documentaries)

Director: Isaac Julien

Gangsta chic, violence and nihilism, the hard edge of Rap and Ragga increasingly dominates the image of black popular culture. Director Isaac Julian (Looking For Langston, Young Soul Rebels) and the Black Audio Film Collective bring their combined talents to this intelligent and provocative investigation of the social and political influences of the music and its hardcore proponents. Allowing for a more complex response to the elements involved - ritualised machismo, misogyny, homophobia, gun glorification - the film never opts for easy judgements. Instead it delves into issues of class, commercial marketing, the legacy of colonialism, fundamentalist faith and fears governing notions of masculinity.

Moving between London, Jamaica and the USA, the film captures the vastly different stances of: Buju Banton (whose ragga dance hit Boom Bye Bye demands all gays be shot), Shabba Ranks, Ice Cube, Michael Franti (Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy), Britain's Moni Love, fans, academics, civil rights activists and even Jamaica's former Prime Minister Michael Manely. Dancehall and hip-hop club scenes, talking head interviews (exchanges between Julien, a black, gay filmmaker and the self professed gay-hating, gun-toting rappers provided much tension during filming), music video clips and the director's hallmark visual style are fused together in this long overdue examination of the darker side of contemporary black music.

See also...

DEREK

UK, 2008
A memorial, homage and exploration of the late and great Derek Jarman, maverick of the British film scene. ... Breaking down barriers in Thatcher's conformist England with his predominantly queer, le… More »

Looking for Langston

UK, 1989
The life and wotk of Langston Hughes during the renaissance of jazz and blues in Harlem in the 1930s and 40s ... The poetry of Essex Hemphill, Bruce Nugent and Langston Hughes is featured with jazz a… More »

WHO NEEDS A HEART

UK, 1991
... ... Where Isaac Julien's Young Soul Rebels (MFF, 1991) gave voice to the black youth dance-set of the mid-late 1970s, John Akomfrah's new film depicts, in a very differ­ent form, the little-s… More »

YOUNG SOUL REBELS

UK, 1991
It's London at the height of punk rock and the year of the Royal Jubilee,1977. Chris and Caz are two music fans with a pirate-radio show and a gig as house d.j.'s at a club that attracts white-punks … More »

The Attendant

USA, 1992
A museum warder's observations and fan­tasies of a 19th century painting 'Scene On the Coast of Africa'. The painting comes to life pre­senting a lurid re-interpretation. A new film from Issa… More »

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