About the Film:
The upstart Bowery Slam Poetry Team, made up of five African-American, Afro-Hispanic and queer poets in their 20s, prepares for the national championships. Mentored by a demanding coach who encourages them to push past their personal boundaries and write from a place of vulnerability, pain and honesty, the poets break down, break through and compose their best work ever. Timely and difficult, their spoken word slays—but will these soul-searching pieces about police violence and the whitewashing of Black culture be able to compete against choreographed crowd-pleasers for the title? Will opting to make a statement instead of a show spell their defeat?
An emotional and inspiring film that gives insightful commentary on race, gender, identity and sexual politics in America today, Don't Be Nice is both an absorbing competition doc and a vital writer's workshop that proves once and for all that winning hearts and minds is the ultimate prize.
A discussion will follow this screening. Panelists include:
- Aceyon Owens and Andrea Daszkiewz, members of the former Roc Bottom slam poetry team in Rochester. The team competed in the U.S. and Canada.
- Filmmaker Nikhil Melnechuk will be there via Skype:
Nikhil Melnechuk is an award-winning filmmaker, actor, and poet in New York City, and a graduate of Wesleyan University. He was Executive Director of Bowery Poetry from 2013-2018, founded Bowery Poetry Studios, and now runs Mystic Entertainment. His film productions—recently “Don’t Be Nice,” “Jack and Jill,” and “Fevah”—have played at scores of festivals across the globe. As an actor, Melnechuk most recently played in Netflix’s “The Kindergarten Teacher,” and his poetry was recently published in Editorial Galaxia’s bilingual anthology, “Latexo (Heart) Beat.”
This is a Rochester premiere. The Black Cinema Series is a partnership between the Rochester Association of Black Journalists (RABJ) and The Little. The series celebrates both documentary and narrative expressions in black cinema with a curated film choice every month.