Brooklyn Daily Eagle
From Friday, August 2 through Thursday, August 8, BAMcinématek presents the US theatrical premiere of veteran hip-hop filmmaker Charlie Ahearn’s Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer, featuring an opening night Q&A with Ahearn, Shabazz, and legendary hip-hop innovator Fab 5 Freddy, and a Saturday night Q&A with Ahearn, hip-hop multihyphenate Bobbito Garcia, and artist David “Chino” Villorente, who has designed a limited edition poster for the documentary.
Ahearn (director of the first hip-hop feature ever, the seminal Wild Style) brings us this definitive portrait of the titular Brooklyn native Shabazz, who documented New York urban street culture for decades before he became discovered internationally through the 2005 publication of his book Back in the Days. In the infancy of hip-hop, Shabazz documented the pioneers of music and style who launched an enduring worldwide phenomenon, and Ahearn pays tribute to both Shabazz and his subjects, those who defined hip-hop before it had a definition. Beyond simply vintage shots of kids rocking Puma Suedes, Kangols, and pinstriped Jordaches in Times Square and Fort Greene Park, Shabazz's photographs have hundreds of stories behind them. Ahearn gives voices to these images with dozens of interviews with Shabazz himself, graffiti pioneer and hip-hop historian Fred “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite, legendary rapper KRS-One, and others.
After picking up a camera for the first time at age 15, Shabazz took photos of his friends and family before descending on the streets of New York City, drawing inspiration from historic photographers and documentarians like James Van Der Zee, Gordon Parks, Leonard Freed, Robert Capa, Chester Higgins Jr., and Eli Reed. In addition to his celebrated book Back in the Days, Shabazz has released two other monographs—The Last Sunday in June and A Time Before Crack—and has exhibited his work at many acclaimed New York institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and many other museums and galleries worldwide.
Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer had its world premiere in 2011 to a standing-room-only crowd at BAMcinemaFest, BAM's annual showcase of the best in American independent cinema. Since its festival premiere, the film has been expanded to 81 minutes for its theatrical release. BAM will also present a photography exhibit in conjunction with the release.
Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer screens Friday, August 2—Thursday, August 8 at 4:30, 7, and 9:30pm with additional 2pm matinees Friday—Sunday.