“Always use your voice…”
Fresh off of back-to-back screenings at the Aspen Short Film Festival & Brooklyn Academy Of Music’s new voices in Black Cinema comes S.P.I.T. – a new short film directed by musician/actor Mtume Gant (Oz, Hurricane Streets, Carlito’s Way: Rise To Power, Bringing Out The Dead, etc).
In the filmmakers own words, Spit is an attempt to unpack the experience that so many artists fall victim to. It follows Jeremiah “Monk-One” Sinclair, an underground NY Hip Hop artist, as he reaches the conclusion to let his vocation go simply because he feels it causes him more pain to practice and “starve” for his art than to persevere. But unlike normal films where we watch the lead character go through their trial like a silent intruder, Spit will take a different perspective. It will be a point-of-view film, totally from the eyes of Monk-One. Inspired by the works of Andrei Tarkovsky, his masterpiece The Mirror in particular, the film will focus less on narrative and will instead aim to be an experience of life through heartbeat and breath. Using the camera as his eyes and brain, we shall witness his viewpoint as he navigates faithlessness, race, gender roles, manhood, and American capitalism’s stranglehold over artistic expression, all within the beast that is New York. It is an homage to all the artists who struggle in silence and all those who disappear in the struggle, leaving us to wonder where they’ve gone.”
Having now the seen the film (multiple times), I can confirm that the Tarkovsky comparison is spot on (how many films have ever invoked the spirit of Hip-Hop and Andrei Tarkovsky?). S.P.I.T. also travels in the same lane as Julie Dash; the good qualities of post-‘98 Terrence Malick, and recent works like Newlyweeds (producer Scott Thorough provided the scores for both S.P.I.T. & Newlyweeds).
With the release of recent films like Beats, Rhymes & Life, Life Is Illmatic, Russian Winter & Jamel Shabazz: Street Photographer, hip-hop is slowly falling into a mini-renaissance within independent film and breaking away from the stigma & negative stereotypes that many folks have towards the culture. It’s also time to explore hip-hop on the big screen beyond the typical subjects like The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.
We’re now in the midst of festival season so make sure to check your local listings to see if S.P.I.T. is playing at a festival near you.
You can watch the trailer for Spit here