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Jackie Salloum's Slingshot Hip Hop //

11.23.09
bylgoode

slingshot-hip-hop-01Other reviewers express surprise and feign jaded reactions to the subject of first-time director, Jackie Salloum’s Slingshot Hip Hop. But one word runs through my mind: Finally!

I just can’t see Palestinian brothers and sisters immune to the power of choosing rhyme over rocks. And that point is obvious when Tamer Nafar recalls seeing a music video of Tupac’s “Holler if Ya Hear Me.” To Tamer, his hometown of Lyd and South Central L.A. were mirror images.

Salloum introduces DAM through use of a rock bottom, low-budget version of MTV’s Cribs. Using this format pinpoints two important elements to the film’s accessibility: the universality of hip hop, and a view of young, politically active, Palestinians as anything other than militants or fanatics. And now for the understatement of the year: the soundtrack helps too. You can’t help but enjoy it.

The movement’s members alternately charm the camera over some sheesha, and break hearts with their struggle to maintain communication and inspire school children amidst military and cultural occupation. These young men and women defy Western stereotypes of Arab men as misogynists, anger management-deficient, religious hypocrites, and of Arab women as voiceless wall-flowers swathed in hijab. The obvious support these artists provide one another provides evidence that the women are not the only ones confounding preconceived notions of Arab culture.

Salloum’s editing choices appear to favor chronology over story arc, making the artists’ efforts appear more nascent and unfocused. So the film jumbles segments focusing on everything from community reactions to checkpoint fatigue in Gaza. Restructuring the film around a series of longer vignettes would give the film a stronger sense of cohesion. But given the momentum DAM, PR, Arapeyat and Mohammad Shalabi are building, Salloum’s next report might look like 2007’s Democracy in Dakar. Such an achievement would be well worth the effort.

Visit the film’s official website and lookout for a FEN exclusive interview with Director Jackie Salloum soon…

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About the Author: Lori Goode keeps the dream alive moonlighting as a reviewer, while passing her days (and nights) near the nation’s halls of power in Washington, D.C.. Her experiences ranges from research to education but she’s always had a keen eye for the arts, particularly film.



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