This week I attended a screening at the Downtown Independent for a new film by L.A. filmmaker/photographer Nabil Elderkin. The film, Bouncing Cats, has been winning awards on the festival circuit, and rightly so. It was at once entertaining, heartbreaking and inspiring.
The documentary tells the story of Abraham “Abramz” Tekya, a Ugandan b-boy who was orphaned at age 7 when both of his parents died of HIV. Abramz started Breakdance Project Uganda in 2006 in hopes of using hip-hop and dance to create positive social change in a region that has been brutalized by civil war and extreme poverty for the last 20 years. Abramz invited Crazy Legs of the Rock Steady Crew to go to Uganda, and the film follows them on a mission to empower and inspire the youth in a country that UNICEF called “pretty much the worst place on earth to be a child.”
The film is finishing up its tour on the festival circuit, and unfortunately does not have a distribution deal yet, though the producers tell me they are exploring different opportunities for getting Bouncing Cats to a wider audience.
Although it may be difficult to see the film in the short term, you can learn more about Breakdance Project Uganda by clicking through from the Bouncing Cats site. There you can donate to BPU and get a limited edition Bouncing Cats t-shirt, with all proceeds going to Breakdance Project Uganda. You can also join Breakdance Project Uganda on Facebook.
After the screening, there was a Q&A panel with the film’s producer and director, as well as three who were featured in the film; Abramz, Crazy Legs, and Jolly Grace Okot, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee who was among the first wave of children abducted at the beginning of Uganda’s civil war and forced to be a child soldier.
Following the Q&A, I went up to the roof of the Downtown Independent, where the afterparty was in full swing. There was a hip-hop DJ, and members of the Rock Steady Crew were breaking on the roof. Cocktails were provided by Red Bull (Red Bull Media House financed the production of Bouncing Cats.) I even had an opportunity for a brief conversation with Jolly Grace Okot.
Over all, a pretty fantastic evening. An inspiring documentary, the Rock Steady Crew break dancing on the roof, I heard Andy Summers of The Police was there, and I chatted with a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Also, free cocktails. Only in L.A.