4 items from 2013
Filmmaker Michelle Latimer has long been a fan of hip-hop music — her first concert was a Maestro Fresh Wes gig in Thunder Bay, Ontario — but researching and filming "Alias," her new documentary exploring the Toronto rap scene, she became much more than a fan. In getting to know the artists that make up the city's homegrown scene, their families, their art and their struggles, she became one of Toronto hip-hop's most passionate defenders.
Latimer was first inspired to look deeper into the scene when someone told her about Alias Donmillion, a MuchMusic Video Award-nominated rapper whose promising career had been stalled by a prison sentence for shooting his gun during Caribana.
"He was actually framed in the same sentence as Tupac and Biggie and I thought that was really interesting," she recalls.
The filmmaker contacted Donmillion after his release from prison and he welcomed her — and, eventually, her film crew — into the fold. »
- HuffPost Canada Music
Latimer Drops Beat On Toronto’s Rap Scene
Taking it’s name from one of the four Toronto street rappers it peeks into the lives of, Michelle Latimer’s Alias examines the cyclic struggles of urban hip-hoppers with ethereal introspection. Contrasting their ghetto reared images with an aural ambiance that strips away the egotistical facade pervading rap culture, Latimer’s debut grounds down to the core of their innate need to perform by slowing down the on-stage action and replacing the heavy beats and lyrical content with the humming of atonal atmospherics. They may lead hard knock lives, but these are the ephemeral moments of euphoria these men and women live for. It’s just too bad that off stage we only get to know them as hardened hip-hop caricatures, hellbent on maintaining street cred rather than transcending their inherited mores.
In fits and starts we follow Alkatraz, Trench, Alias, »
- Jordan M. Smith
Indo-Canadian composer Vikas Kohli of FatLabs has two films gearing up for the festival circuit. Kohli wrote the score for Samuel Kiehoon's short film "Rattan," an homage to B-movies in which a bicycle basket anthropomorphizes into a possessed murderer. He also composed the music for Michelle Latimer's Toronto-based rapper documentary "Alias." "Rattan," which already picked up an award at the WorldFest Houston International Film Festival earlier this year, will screen in the short film program at Cannes this year. "Alias" will have its world premiere at the Toronto film Festival Hot Docs this Friday, April 26. "Writing the music for 'Rattan' was really fun because we wanted to pay homage to classic horror movies without actually making the music cheesy and over-the-top," said Kohli, who has previously scored a number of short films. "Scoring for 'Alias' was different than any other project I worked on. From the outset, »
- Ryan Lattanzio
Scheduled to screen at the HotDocs Film Festival, running April 25 to May 5, is Michelle Latimer's Alias. The synopsis reads: Street rap thrives in the Toronto neighborhoods of Regent Park, Don Mills, and Jane and Finch where the music and lyrics are the voice of power and protest of marginalized communities growing up in urban poverty. Michelle Latimer makes her feature doc debut with a powerfully cinematic, observational doc that captures the realities of five Toronto rappers trying to escape the hustle of drugs and danger through their music. Featuring rap artists and producers Alkatraz, Trench, Alias, Knia and Keon, the film digs deeper than the usual portrait of the rap »
- Tambay A. Obenson
4 items from 2013
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