Thursday, January 18th – Opening Day

Posted January 23, 2007 in
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Thursday, January 19th – Opening Day

Pandemonium ensued as Lance and I made our way up to the Sundance headquarters to get our press passes. While Lance and Angela had their passes ready, I had to wait in line for an hour to get my press pass (including a pretty horrendous picture of my face). After that, we went to the Slamdance headquarters on Main Street to get our passes and request tickets to upcoming screenings of movies we would like to cover. A few hours (and beers) later we had an interview with the co-directors of Rock the Bells, Casey Suchan and Denis Henry Hennelly, Sage Francis, MC Supernatural and the gentlemen who run Guerrilla Union productions, Chang Weisberg and Brian Valdez.

Slamdance's Rock the Bells is a documentary about the Rock the Bells festival, a one-day hip-hop festival. The movie's forward thrust centers around the organization and execution of the festival in conjunction with getting all the Wu-Tang solo artists together in one spot for a bona-fide Wu-Tang show (ten years in the making). The film shows what actually goes into producing and putting on a show of this magnitude – from contracts, money and security issues, all the way to set times and artists relations. Rock the Bells goes beyond the typical rock-umentary by providing the behind-the-scenes look into the start-to-finish event planning that normal concerts goers take for granted.

At first, just knowing the bare bones about the movie, I was skeptical about how I would receive it and if it would be any good. Who wants to see a movie that is rudimentarily about hip-hop? Remember what Snoop says: the game is to be sold, not told. Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly after watching the movie), it was amazing. Fast paced story telling is combined with a passionate and resonate eye towards the essence of hip-hop culture and performance. The directors do a great job, after spending two years in the editing room, of making and distilling an excellent project – just like a great bottle of whiskey. Even if you're not into hip-hop, the movie is evocative of the live entertainment experience and will school you on what it takes to throw a party of this kind.

"The Makeshift Patriot Broccoli Bomber," Sage Francis Himself.

The interview itself took place at Slamdance's opening party at the Star Bar, which also happened to be the movies after party as well. Sage Francis and MC Supernatural headlined a very intimate, very amazing hip-hop show. Even though the sets were relatively short, a gentleman named Fluffy who hailed from Bloomington, IN kept the music alive – think Justin Thomas Burch plus dance beats and a little Ryan Powers bravado for show.

The interview consisted of a roundtable discussion about hip-hop, the problems involved in throwing a hip-hop gathering and the usual detailed discussion about certain plot points in the film. Sage Francis was gracious enough to give us a follow-up interview back stage after his performance. If you want to hear it click on the audio link and listen away!

Keep it real,

–Lance Saunders and Erik Lopez