- Loose Luggage Media
Dir. Adam Sjöberg
The Egyptian, June 5 at 9:45pm, June 6 at 4pm
This Nas-produced documentary explores breakdancing as a global phenomenon, particularly in communities where money is in short supply. It's so unrelentingly upbeat, though, that the good vibes threaten to turn bad—at least for those who like a little sour with their sweet—but it's hard to find fault with such a harmless form of escape and release.
In the film, a five-year labor of love, LA director Adam Sjöberg (We All Might Make It) travels to Cambodia, Uganda, Colombia, and Yemen to solicit commentary from dancers about their moves and inspirations (because of 2011's Arab Spring, which took place during filming, Yemen ends up getting short shrift). For Bogotá's DJ Fresh, a 30-year b-boy veteran, inspiration came by way of the breakdancing sequence in Flashdance, while Kampala rapper Abramz cites '80s hip-hop videos.
Other subjects, however, like Phnom Penh's KK, a former Crip, started out in the States before returning to their native countries. With them, they brought back a love of popping, locking, headspins, battles, and cyphers. Says Cartagna's Rafael Castillo, "When I am dancing I feel like I am alone in the universe."
I enjoyed the music and dance in Shake the Dust, but it's rarely as insightful or as instructive as it could've been, at least compared to b-boy predecessors like Style Wars or Scratch (or even more recent docs like Arctic Hip-Hop and Danchi No Yume: Dreams of the Projects, which also take on hip-hop in remote locales).
On the plus side, Sjöberg's photography expertise permeates the crisp, clear images, which provide a contrast with the soft, fuzzy camera work in Beautiful Noise, the shoegaze/dream-pop doc that also played at this year's festival.