On the way from Paris-based prodco/distributor Les films d’ici, The Furious Force of Rhymes looks at the evolution of hip-hop as potent protest music, and follows performers and hip-hop aficionados to France, Israel, Senegal, Colombia, and back to New York as they make their mark in their respective communities. The doc, due to wrap by the end of 2009, combines archival footage with current interviews and live performances to illustrate hip-hop’s activist bent, and the possibilities for music to create social change. Look for both a 90- and 52-minute version.
Fidel Castro has been the figurehead of Cuba for nearly 50 years. However, with his health causing him to step down as president this past year, many, including director Bernard Mangiante, wonder what a post-Castro Cuba will resemble. Mangiante and Les films d’ici set out to Cuba to talk to its citizens, from workers to intellectuals, from students to farmers, to get a real look into the heart of the country. Cuba Between Two Hurricanes, due to wrap this past December, is made in association with ARTE.
For over 50 years the mass rape of over 200,000 women across Asia during World War II by the Japanese Imperial Army was kept quiet; partially due to the shame felt by the victims. However, in 1996, Maria Rosa Henson wrote a book about the tragedy, Comfort Women: Slave of Destiny, finally breaking the silence and letting the world know of her personal experience. Since then, organizations sprung up in Asia, Europe and the U.S., lobbying for an apology from the Japanese government. Kirsten Esch and Björn Jensen are working on a film documenting these efforts and their results. This doc, produced by German-based Ginger Foot Films and tentatively called Comfort Women: Japanese Rape Camps in WWII, will be available in 90- and 52-minute versions and will follow the grandmothers (‘Lolas’, as they’re called) in the Philippines who continue to protest outside of the Japanese embassy looking for reparations for their pain.
Onto lighter fare… Working in documentary programming, you’re unlikely to need a stunt double for a child. But apparently, when this problem does turn up in feature or TV production, producers traditionally turn to little people, rather than children, as their stand-ins. However, Jim and Celia Dunn in Vancouver have raised three children to help alleviate this problem. The Dunns have thrown their kids off roofs, shot at them and set them on fire. And while sometimes they have to answer to the Child Protection Agency about it, generally it’s how they make a living. Vancouver-based prodco The Eyes has created a 13 x 30-minute reality series about this odd family. ‘There aren’t a lot of family reality shows,’ says president Blaire Reekie. ‘Reality has always drifted off to the slap and tickle.’ But Stunt Family Dunn is targeted at the whole unit by not only showing life on the job, but also domestic life as the kids try to balance work, school and friends and the parents clash over aspirations for their children.
The Eyes specializes in lifestyle and scientific programs, so also on its slate are two science programs that look at what makes the modern world tick. Building a Better Deathtrap examines disasters such as people plummeting down elevator shafts, bridges collapsing and the destruction of a ski lift to see what lessons were learned from these catastrophes so that they are less likely to happen again. This 13 x 1-hour HD program uses animation, experiments and recreations to examine each accident and show how each one has made the world safer. Another current science program on their slate is Industrious. It’s another 13 x 1-hour HD program, but rather than showing what makes things fail, it explores massive industrial complexes and how they work.