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By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, Louder Than a Bomb follows the fortunes of four Chicago-area high school poetry teams as they prepare for and compete in the world's largest youth slam.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Kevin Coval
Adam Gottlieb
Elizabeth Graf
Kevin Harris
John Hood
Lamar Jorden
Peter Kahn
Jésus Lark
She'Kira McKnight
Preye Porri
James Sloan
Charles Smith
Robbie Q. Telfer ...
Himself
Nova Venerable
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Storyline

Hailed as "one of the most inspiring and exhilarating documentaries in years" (Steve Pond, The Wrap), Louder Than a Bomb tells the story of four Chicago high school poetry teams as they prepare for and compete in the world's largest youth slam. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the film captures the turbulent lives of these unforgettable kids, exploring the ways writing shapes their world, and vice versa. Louder Than a Bomb is not about "high school poetry" as we often think of it. It's about language as a joyful release, irrepressibly talented teenagers obsessed with making words dance. While the topics they tackle are often deeply personal, what they put into their poems-and what they get out of them-is universal: the defining work of finding one's voice. Written by Greg Jacobs

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slam poetry | See All (1) »

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Documentary

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Release Date:

25 March 2014 (Netherlands)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$3,881 (USA) (10 June 2011)

Gross:

$40,362 (USA) (10 June 2011)
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Connections

Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.16 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Slam Dunk
12 May 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Most people do not believe in anything very much and our greatest poetry is given to those of us who do." Cyril Connolly

The Poetry Slam in Chicago, 2008, a rousing competition documented by the Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel team, has an abundance of energy and love that almost overcomes the astonishing virtuosity of the individual participants.

Although the film has a now common narrative pattern of following a few teams and stars months before the competition, the tension is still there as eliminations breed sorrow and success tests nerves. Steinmetz city school won in an upset in 2007, so can it win again in 2008? You just don't know until the last minutes of the doc, a formula for action but just as compelling as being at the competition that last night.

The solo artists are more powerful for me than the team. Some of their poetry, such as that of Nova Venerable from Oak Park/River Forest High School, is plain arresting, hers about her father and disabled brother as authentic and emotionally electric as the best writing you could read on the subjects. (Nova, like her name, is from another world). Adam Gottlieb, from Northside College Prep, is the most personable with words about his Jewish heritage that must make his race proud to be on his lips.

These slammers are not rappers, who rely on a repertoire far beyond the simple voices of the slammers, but their messages are so authentic and unadorned you might book a flight to the windy city for the next poetry slam. Of course, that wind would be the dynamic breath of these teens, who are disadvantaged no more—just watch the postscript for the colleges they are attending.

At any rate, it's not basketball but an awful lot of slam dunks by gifted poetry soloists


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