"I hope I have the words to describe how awesome this documentary is!"
SCREENED AT THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: A film festival is fun because it’s a place of discovery. I had no idea what I was getting into for more than half the time I was attending movies at SXSW. And Slam Planet: War of the Words was easily the biggest surprise for me.Slam Planet follows the progress of two rival poetry teams, from Austin, TX and New York City, as they battle to make it to the national championship competition of “slam poetry.” If you’ve ever watched HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam,” you already have a taste of what this kind of poetry is all about.
A slam poet takes the stage, accompanied by no musical instruments, and delivers his or her carefully crafted composition to a judgmental audience. Sometimes a couple or group of poets will perform together. Slam Poetry is a beautiful art; outright singing is an exception to the norm, but these verbal pieces of art are at their best intrinsically musical, disciplined by rhythm and guided by ideas and thoughts that are modern and sophisticated. A poem can be a hilarious monologue, angry rant, or emotional outpouring. Sometimes a poem is intimate and personal, sometimes it's complicated and abstract. But every poem (or every good poem at least) is theatrical, stylish, passionate, and altogether well-spoken.
The talent and skill of these hard-working poets is inspiring, as is Slam Planet. Documentarians Kyle Fuller and Mike Henry have the artistic chops to match their lyrical, rhyming subjects. Slam Planet is a great-looking, well-paced film that’ll instantly include viewers in the epic “war of words” it features. You can’t help but applause the poems that make you laugh or tear up and you’ll instantly pick your favorite poets to root for.
Slam Planet not only showcases dozens of wonderful performances but it thoroughly explores the many controversies and struggles that the road to the National Poetry Slam entails and isn’t stingy with character development.
Fuller and Henry have great ability at knowing what their audience will respond to and it’s lucky that such an interesting competition was taken into their hands.Slam Planet is enough to motivate you to jot down a verbal masterpiece and share it with an energetic audience. But I’ll leave that to the astonishingly gifted poets... who hopefully will get to quit their day job sometime soon.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Independent Film Festival of Boston For more in the 2007 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.