© Kinowelt Filmverleih GmbH

Dave Chappelle's Block Party
U.S.A. 2005

Opening 3 Aug 2006

Directed by: Michel Gondry
Writing credits: Dave Chappelle
Principal actors: Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle is a talented black American stand-up comedian, whose “Chappelle’s Show” ran in Germany on MTV for a while. He joined forces with French director Michel Gondry, who has made music videos (Kylie Minogue), advertisements (Levy) and feature films (Human Nature), and won many prizes in all categories. They planned and documented an impromptu street party in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on September 18, 2004. No tickets were sold, the location was a secret; there was no advertising. Still, a huge neighborhood crowd arrived for the 12-hour show, through word of mouth or through personal invitation from Chappelle. He handed out tickets to his day-care center teacher, a college marching band from his home town of Dayton Ohio, a probation officer, etc. The concert featured rap artists Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kwili, Erikah Badu, Jill Scott, etc. The grand finale was a surprise: a reunion of the Fugees with Lauryn Hill singing “Killing Me Softly.”

I loved the democratic distribution of free tickets. No one traveled to Carnegie Hall to enjoy this music. For the first time and to my surprise, I also loved the rap, which came across as an established genre, here to stay, and on its way to respectability, in spite of the foul language. Chappelle’s enthusiasm and energy is catching. I was happy to see the film in English with German subtitles: in English to appreciate the hip hop slang and German subtitles for comprehension, although the subtitles must have been a challenge to translate, for example, “It’s going down” is “Das war der Hammer” or “That trips me up” is “Das ist echt irre.” This ran very successfully at the 2006 Berlinale. (Becky Tan)

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