Apologies for going all Dark Knight on everyone with the title (once a geek, always a geek, amiright?), but I’m really excited about the A3C Hip Hop Festival, going down in the ATL next week. After many years as a forgotten locale, Atlanta is once again the flavour of the month/year when it comes to serving as a destination for top arts festivals (see: Music Midtown, TomorrowWorld), and it’s easy to see why – a major hub airport serving international destinations, great weather year round, a thriving and robust local art scene, and one of the most ubiquitous names to drop in your rap song.
A3C Festival is a bit different in that it is the brainchild of a group of Atlanta natives and hip-hop heads who felt the city needed to do something to celebrate its roots as the cradle of Southern Rap. The 9th edition of the festival will be running next week (October 2-6), at venues throughout town. A3C has grown from a (mostly) local event to an international experience featuring some of the biggest names in rap and hip-hop, showcasing their work through multiple mediums, including street art and film in addition to music.
In fact, the film section might just be what I’m most excited about, and my excuse for going with a crappy Batman reference. As Georgia has emerged as the Hollywood of the South thanks to quality shows being filmed and produced in the larger Atlanta area (I’m looking at you Archer, Walking Dead. Not so much at you Vampire Diaries), it’s refreshing to see independent filmmakers have kept a foothold in the community, and have the backing to screen their passion projects to receptive audiences. While the subject matter of these documentaries might seem narrow on the surface, the rich social commentary and introspective nature of hip-hop should lend to some moving stories, interesting conversations, and great audiovisual experiences.
From October 2-6, 2013, A3C will host movie premieres, screenings, music videos, shorts and panels. Headlining the second annual festival on October 3, is the East Coast Premiere of the Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton: This Is Stones Throw Records documentary on one of hip-hop’s most heralded labels. There will be a Q&A with director Jeff Broadway, film and music makers, as well as an after party hosted by Peanut Butter Wolf and more to be announced.
Directed by Jeff Broadway and featuring Peanut Butter Wolf, Madlib, DOOM, Kanye West, A-Trak and more, Our VinylWeighs a Ton chronicles 15-plus years of independent hip-hop history through the storied lens of Los Angeles’ Stones Throw Records. Variety called the documentary “full of inspired detours, colorful non sequiturs, inside jokes and unexplained phenomena that will likely give hip-hop fans paroxysms of pleasure” and for the first time, people outside of LA will get a chance to see it.
The A3C Film Festival will also screen the highly acclaimed Everybody Street documentary to present as part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography and A3C Festival, with a Q&A with director Cheryl Dunn. The film illuminates the lives and work of New York’s iconic street photographers such as Ricky Powell, Martha Cooper, Jamel Shabazz, Jeff Mermelstein, Clayton Patterson and the incomparable city that has inspired them for decades. The documentary pays tribute to the spirit of street photography through a cinematic exploration of New York City, and captures the visceral rush, singular perseverance and at times immediate danger customary to these artists.
Also at the A3C Film Festival: BBoy for Life chronicle of break dancers and gang members in Guatemala City directed by Coury Deeb, Doin’ It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC directors Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau examine New York City’s obsession with playground hoops, Demos a documentary that was created to educate and inspire the emerging hip-hop independent artist to accelerate their career, directed by Kareem Fort & Matt Friedman and Chilltown an animated comedy that follows three hip-hop heads, directed by Leesa Dean.
A3C is shaping up to be the SXSW of the East (SXSE anyone?), and it will be a hip hop fanatic’s version of Willy Wonka’s factory – and not just because you might catch a glimpse of Too Short, Ludacris, and Jermaine Dupri running around. Be sure to stay tuned for our music preview going live later this week, and check out more information about the festival and be sure to look at the schedule too.