Not, “Do you want another rap?”, but two documentaries on Hip Hop, with a similar focus, set in the same country, Uganda. Which for me, makes the differences in their presentation style all the more startling.

This first one “Diamonds in the Rough” (extended trailer above) is pretty much in the style of the mid-90’s “underground” Hip Hop documentary, which has it’s own set of conventions but tends to portray fairly straight forward the perspectives of its subjects. I always thought films like this where the director had to engage with the situation in a more immersed experience were a valuable peek into the inner workings of a scene or a culture.

The second one, Red Bull sponsored “Bouncing Cats” (trailer below and screening at NYU this Thursday) is in a more high budget, made for prime-time television feel good (feel bad?) story, style.

[vimeo=http://vimeo.com/11938213 w=500&h=281]

The doc is meant to spread awareness of a situation the audience might not be familiar with. But, I can’t help but question if the participation of celebrities and the foregrounding of stories of human tragedy diffuses the attempts at trying to make a connection to the lived experience of the subjects. For me it’s a distancing experience that can reinforce a marginalization of the subject culture from both perspectives.

The need to present the story in this way isn’t really the fault of the director. In our High Definition culture, the general public usually needs to have a little flash and drama to pay attention. Plus you gotta sell DVD’s! So I have to ask, do we really need these things to tell these stories?–Chief Boima

Further Reading