THE FRESHEST: THE FIRST ANNUAL TORONTO INTERNATIONAL HIP-HOP FILM FESTIVAL Rating: NNNN
As hiphop continues to lose its spirit, the films presented at REMG's grandiosely titled The Freshest (six classic rap-related flicks) seem more like precious historical records that future generations will rely on to put it all in context.
Take Style Wars. Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant's 1983 PBS-broadcast documentary on graffiti, breakdancing, DJing and early rapping is remarkably prescient. While most barely deemed the art form a passing trend, Silver and Chalfant were setting up their tripods at the eye of the brewing hiphop storm.
The picture, which is almost primer-like in its straightforwardness, lets you smell the subculture being born as the duo track graf and b-boy visionaries through their NYC terrains - train yards, ball courts and underground subway shelters. They also interview authorities, including Mayor Ed Koch, who brags about the ferocious dogs and barbed-wire fences he commissioned to protect the city's trains from the city's oppressed.
But you could go to any of the fest's other films and see something worthwhile. Fans of Queensbridge hiphop should check Tragedy, subtitle-loving chin-strokers should hit up the art drama La Haine (Hate) about Paris's dirty side, and all my Buddha heads should take in DJ Q-Bert's psychedelic animated cult hit Wave Twisters. (August 26 and 27, the Royal)