The Hip Hop Project (2006) - News Poster

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Watch: Lakeith Stanfield Stars as Wrongfully Convicted Man in ‘Crown Heights’

After a teenager is killed in the streets of Flatbush, Brooklyn in 1980, the police pressure a child witness to identify a suspect. Based on the testimony, Colin Warner, an 18 year old from Crown Heights, is wrongfully convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison. Audience Award winner at the Sundance Film Festival, “Crown Heights” is the true story of a man’s fight to prove that man’s innocence. The Amazon Studios flick follows not only Warner’s time in jail, but also Colin’s childhood friend Carl “Kc” King as he devotes his life to fighting for his best friend’s freedom. Written and directed by Matt Ruskin (“Booster,” “The Hip Hop Project”), the film stars Lakeith Stanfield (“Atlanta”) as Colin Warner and Nnamdi Asomugha as Carl King. This adaptation of a “This American Life” episode is set for an Aug. 25 theatrical release. Check out the trailer
See full article at Backstage »

Five Questions With “Booster” Director Matt Ruskin

Too often contemporary crime dramas binge on the crime and skimp on the drama. This is not the case with Booster, director Matt Ruskin’s debut narrative feature, and his followup to Sundance Channel documentary The Hip Hop Project. The story of Simon, a Boston-based petty thief forced to turn to serious robbery after his brother is arrested, Booster features stellar performances from a handful of Boston natives, as well as veteran character actor Seymour Cassel. Ruskin’s film wrestles with provocative moral issues, taking care to imbue even its most externally-loathsome characters with life and heart. Premiering in Narrative Competition today, Booster is sure to please audiences looking for a smart, meditative drama.

Filmmaker: The film strives for an authenticity and level of emotion not seen in many of modern-day crime films. How did you go about getting into Simon’s head, and building out his story?

Ruskin: The lead actor,
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine »

2012 Sundance Predictions: Matt Ruskin's Booster

#10. Booster - Matt Ruskin A 2011 Narrative Filmmaker Lab Participant, Matt Ruskin's thriller starring Seymour Cassel might be considered as a longshot as the only logical category fit for a Park City showing might be the Next section. Nonetheless, Booster is produced by an up-and-comer producer in Andrea Roa, and Ruskin's does have Sundance connections in his past - his feature directorial debut, The Hip Hop Project, was aired on the Sundance Channel and he was a consulting producer on the Sundance preemed docu William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe. Gist: When Simon's brother is arrested for armed robbery, he is asked to commit a string of similar crimes in an attempt to get his brother acquitted. Caught between loyalty to his brother and his own will, Simon is forced to examine his life. Producer: Andrea Roe (Sunlight Jr.)(Ioncinema.com Preview Page // IMDb Link)  
See full article at ioncinema »

How Do You Know Likely to Be Re-cut to Avoid R-Rating for Language

  • Collider.com
Pop quiz: what do Denzel Washington’s Antwone Fisher, Matt Ruskin and Chris Rolle’s documentary The Hip-Hop Project and James L. Brooks’ upcoming rom-com How Do You Know all have in common? Any guesses? Anyone? Okay, I’ll tell you: all three films, in their finished form, include over one use of the word “fuck” during the course of their running time. Yet oddly enough, despite the MPAA’s staunch ‘one ‘fuck’ per PG-13 film’ rule, two of these films–Antwone Fisher (three “fucks”) and The Hip Hop Project (seventeen)–somehow managed to avoid being slapped with an R-rating, and instead were deemed suitably appropriate for a PG-13.

How Do You Know, on the other hand, hasn’t been quite as lucky. Earlier this week Sony found their film slapped with an R-rating, on account of the film’s usage of the word ‘fuck’ three times. After losing an appeal to overturn the rating,
See full article at Collider.com »

'The Hip Hop Project' Lays Down a Positive Vibe

The Hip Hop Project is a documentary that focuses on the experiences of a group of teenagers from a rough part of New York City who join a program to independently produce a collaborative hip-hop album. The program — the Hip Hop Project of the title — is founded and initially taught by Chris 'Kazi' Rolle, a once-homeless rapper in his twenties. The film was released on single-disc DVD in North America in January by Image Entertainment/E1.

Want to know more? As the directorial debut of Matt Ruskin, The Hip Hop Project focuses on the first cohort of students to pass through Kazi's program. The film provides little detail on how Kazi started the Hip Hop Project but it is clear that he was helped by generous donations of time and facilities. In his interviews he gives particular praise to Robin 'Kheperah' Kearse, a speaker on hip hop, youth empowerment and personal development.
See full article at CinemaSpy »

This Week on DVD: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Final Destination, Trucker

  • FilmJunk
Not a lot of exciting releases this week on DVD, but I'm sure some people will be interested in checking out a couple of last year's biggest 3-D movies, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Final Destination. Also, if you need to catch up before the next season starts on HBO, Big Love: The Complete Third Season is out today, and on Blu-ray, you've got Battlestar Galactica: Season 1 plus a couple of Stacy Peralta documentaries. I don't want to tell you how to spend your money, but you might want to wait for next week instead. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs [1] (+ Blu-ray [2]) The Final Destination [3] (+ Blu-ray [4]) Trucker [5] 50 Dead Men Walking [6] (+ Blu-ray [7]) Lorna's Silence [8] The Ministers [9] (+ Blu-ray [10]) 3 Ways To Get a Husband [11] The Hip Hop Project [12] 10 Things I Hate About You: 10th Anniversary Edition [13] (+ Blu-ray [14]) Big Love: Season 3 [15] Chuck: The Complete Second Season [16] (+ Blu-ray [17]) Iron Man
See full article at FilmJunk »

'Hip Hop' beats its R rap

NEW YORK -- Despite 17 uses of the word "fuck," the MPAA's Ratings Review Board gave a PG-13 rating to ThinkFilm's docu The Hip Hop Project after its R rating was appealed by director Matt Ruskin and the film's rapper subject, Chris Kazi Rolle.

The film, executive produced by Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah, follows the once-homeless rapper as he helps a group of poor New York teens deal with their frustrations by making a hip-hop album. Project follows their four-year journey, including studio time funded by Willis and producer Russell Simmons.

Six of the panel's eight members agreed to change the rating, which was issued for the film's language. "We decided to appeal the R rating to allow teenagers access to see this film because they are the ones who need it most," said Rolle, founder of the offscreen Hip Hop Project. "After years of working with teens, I know you have to reach them when they are young. Just as I didn't have a parent to take me to the movies when I was a teenager, many of the young people who would benefit most from this film would have been denied access if the R rating stood."

Ruskin told the board, "This motion picture is a call to end the destructive forces of violence, misogyny and criminality that dominate the music our children are listening to."

In a recent statement from his Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, Simmons expressed similar sentiments and called for the elimination of the n-word, "ho" and "bitch" in rap lyrics.

ThinkFilm hip to 'Hip Hop' docu project

ThinkFilm hip to 'Hip Hop' docu project
ORLANDO -- ThinkFilm has nabbed all worldwide rights to The Hip Hop Project, a documentary from executive producers Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah. It is the first acquisition for the distributor since it was purchased last week by David Bergstein and Ron Tutor's Capco Group.

Directed by Matt Ruskin, Hip Hop revolves around of Chris Kharma Kazi Rolle, an abandoned and homeless New York teenager who grew up to develop an outreach program for troubled teens to help each other and express themselves through hip-hop. As Kazi and two of his students attempted to create their own album, rap entrepreneur Russell Simmons and Bruce Willis donated a recording studio to their Hip Hop Project. Rapper Doug E. Fresh also makes an appearance in the chronicle of the youths' four-year struggle.

"We are extremely impressed by this film, which blends classical themes of salvation and self-discovery, with utterly contemporary sights and sounds," ThinkFilm head of U.S. theatrical Mark Urman said. "Not since our own 'Born Into Brothels' have I seen such a powerful and entertaining story about young people and the redemptive power of art."

The docu will be released in theaters in the spring, and will be introduced this week at the American Film Market by the company's ThinkFilm International division.

After premiering at this year's Tribeca Film Festival with the initial title Word.Life: The Hip-Hop Project, the film won the audience award at the Urbanworld Vibe Film Festival and Zurich Film Festival, as well as the best docu award at the Harlem International Film Festival.

Urbanworld fest taps 'Wholetrain'

NEW YORK -- The 10th annual Urbanworld Vibe Film Festival announced $45,000 in prizes Monday for several winning projects. Florian Gaag's German/Polish gang drama Wholetrain took home best narrative feature honors and a $5,000 award provided by Lionsgate. American Blackout, Ian Inaba's study of African-American voter suppression, was named best narrative documentary feature and awarded $10,000 from the Wal-Mart Voices of Color Film Series. Blackout earned a special jury prize this year at the Sundance Film Festival. The audience award at this year's fest, which marked Urbanworld's new trial partnership and co-branding venture with Vibe magazine, went to Matt Ruskin and Scott K. Rosenberg's Word.Life: The Hip Hop Project. Executive producer Bruce Willis' docu follows nearly four years of a music-based program dedicated to helping New York City youths. The filmmakers were awarded $10,000 in Kodak film stock.

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