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15th anniversary of SLAM with Marc Levin (Harlem, NYC)


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(DECEMBER 5-8, 2013)


Tonight the Maysles Cinema brings you the film that captivated critics and judges from Sundance to Cannes and turned slam poetry into the global phenomenon it is today: Marc Levin's SLAM. Join acclaimed poet and performer Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn (of The Wire), Bonz Malone, Bob Holman, Liza Jessie Peterson, Richard Stratton and Marc Levin at the Dempsey Auditorium in Harlem (127 W. 127th Street) for the 15th Anniversary of this seminal film and the first gathering of the talent behind it since 1998. The discussion will be moderated by hip-hop turntablist, composer and author, DJ Spooky and the film will be introduced by actor Michael K. Williams (The Wire and Boardwalk Empire). Everything kicks off at 7:00pm!


In the nights to follow, the Maysles Cinema will journey back through Levin's decades of documentary and realist-fiction filmmaking with works that explore defining themes in our collective psyche: race, class, politics, religion and urban identity-themes that provide a lens through which to examine social and cultural dynamics at every level in modern America. In addition to SLAM, the Masterclass will include the following screenings: WHITEBOYZ, a humorous take on the no man's land where black and white meet in popular culture; GANG WARS: BANGIN' IN LITTLE ROCK and its follow-up; a preview of Levin's in-progress documentary FREEWAY: CRACK IN THE SYSTEM, followed by MR. UNTOUCHABLE, for a look at the world of gangster capitalism through the stories of real American Gangsters, LA's "Freeway" Rick Ross and Harlem's own Nicky Barnes; clips from BRICK CITY, CAPTURED and CHICAGOLAND, as part of Sunday's session on Documenting Urban America; and PROTOCOLS OF ZION, Levin's journey to unfold the ancient conspiracy theory that re-emerged after 9/11: blame it on the Jews.


Stars, producers and writers from each film will join Levin for post-screening Q&As, including Piper Perabo (of USA's hit series Covert Affairs), who was cast in WHITEBOYZ shortly after graduating from college. "Freeway" Rick Ross, who stood at the center of crack epidemic and CIA/Contra/Cocaine connection, and Joseph "Jazz" Hayden, an original member of Nicky Barnes' Heroin Council, will also join us for the FREEWAY: CRACK IN THE SYSTEM & MR.UNTOUCHABLE evening-two generations of drug kingpins turned activists, live in the same program. The full schedule with speakers can be found below.


Levin has a long and influential history with Al and David Maysles going back 1970, when he worked as an apprentice editor on their rockumentary classic, GIMME SHELTER. "In those few seconds when a young black man is stabbed by a Hells Angel, violence, music, sex, drugs, race, gangs and politics all collided," says Levin. "The impact was profound, historically and personally. The Maysles helped birth the independent film community here in New York, paving the way for the raw, authentic aesthetic that's inspired me and so many others. It is an honor to reconnect with Al and to present my work in his house."


For film series details and advance ticketing: www.maysles.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MayslesCinema

Twitter: @MayslesCinema


About Marc Levin

Marc Levin is an independent film producer and director. He is best known for his dramatic feature film SLAM, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Camera D'Or at Cannes in 1998, as well as his BRICK CITY TV series, which won the 2010 Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking. He has also received three Emmy Awards and four duPont-Columbia Awards. To learn more, visit www.blowbackproductions.com and www.brickcitytv.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blowbackproductions


About the Maysles Documentary Center:

The Maysles Documentary Center, a not-for-profit organization, is dedicated to the exhibition and production of documentary films that inspire dialogue and action. Through the Maysles Cinema and education programs, we engage diverse communities in creative self-expression, communicating ideas and advocating needs.


Please note:

All Masterclass: Marc Levin screenings will be held at the Maysles Cinema (343 Lenox Avenue between 127th and 128th Streets) except for Slam: A 15th Anniversary Celebration which will be held at the Dempsey Auditorium at 127 W. 127th Street near Lenox Avenue.


Thursday, December 5th-Sunday, December 8th


Masterclass: Marc Levin

(Identifying and surveying exemplary careers in documentary production through an expansive lens.)


Thursday, December 5th, 7:00pm  


@ the Dempsey Auditorium

(127 West 127th street)

Slam: A 15th Anniversary Celebration




Darian Dauchan

Samantha Thornhill

Jon Sands 




Introduced by Michael K. Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire)

Marc Levin, 1998, 100 min.

Filmmaker Marc Levin won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and the Camera d'Or at Cannes for his feature dramatic directorial debut that helped catalyze the global spoken word movement. Slam, starring Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn (of "The Wire") and Bonz Malone, is a prison drama about a young black poet jailed on minor drug charges, who uses his gift with words to regain his freedom. Real-life poets Williams and Sohn wrote their own material. Of the film, Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Brace yourself for a slam-dunk of a movie, in an in-your-face cinema verite-style that makes Godard's 'Breathless' seem like a cartoon." Slam was produced by Levin, New York nightclub owner Henri Kessler, and Prison Life magazine founder Richard Stratton, who spent eight years in prison on marijuana charges. Levin first encountered Williams during a 1996 poetry reading at New York's Nuyorican Poets Cafe.



Q&A with Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn, Bonz Malone, Bob Holman, Richard Stratton, Liza Jessie Peterson, Marc Levin and DJ Spooky moderating.



   Friday, December 6th, 7:30pm



Marc Levin, 1999, 92 min.

Whiteboyz is a black white comedy (or a white black comedy depending how you see it) starring Danny Hoch, Piper Perabo, Dash Mihok, and Mark Webber, and featuring rapper Snoop Dogg. Written by Garth Belcon, Richard Stratton, and Hoch--known for his acclaimed one-man shows Jails, Hospitals & Hip Hop and Some People-Whiteboyz takes a fresh, off-beat look at race and urban culture, as it follows three white Iowa teenagers dreaming of gansta rap stardom. Fat Joe, Dead Prez, Mic Geronimo, Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh also appear in the film.


Q&A with Danny Hoch, Marc Levin, Piper Perabo, Garth Belcon, and Richard Stratton.

Saturday, December 7th, 4:00pm



Gang War: Bangin' in Little Rock

Marc Levin, 1994, 60 min.


Back in the Hood: Gang War 2

Marc Levin, 2004, 53 min.

Gang wars in sleepy Little Rock, Arkansas, home of newly elected President Clinton?

Gang War: Bangin' in Little Rock is the HBO documentary that shocked the country, sounding the startling wake-up call that the gangs of LA and Chicago had metastasized to middle America. Made possible by unprecedented access to major figures on the scene, Gang War offers an unflinching look into the lives of local boys and girls, (black and white) who claim to be "G"s for life. Back in the Hood: Gang War 2 follows Leifel Jackson, one-time leader of the OGCs (Original Gangster Crips), as he is released from prison after almost a decade behind bars.


Q&A with producers Daphne Pinkerson and Michael Skolnik, Director Marc Levin, and Gang War subjects Leifel Jackson (via Skype) and Steve Nawojczyk (via Skype).





Preview of "Freeway: Crack in the System,"

Marc Levin's forthcoming feature documentary

The real Rick Ross is not a rapper. He's an urban legend in South Central LA, a black godfather figure whom most people have never seen, but know by name and reputation. He's "Freeway" Rick Ross, the man who stood at the center of the crack epidemic, and whose name has been inextricably linked to the CIA-Contra-Crack connection. His story defies all odds and stereotypes and proves that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.




Mr. Untouchable

Marc Levin, 2007, 92 min.

This is the story of the real American gangster--Harlem's godfather, the biggest black drug kingpin in the history of New York City--Nicky Barnes. Featuring exclusive interviews with Barnes for the first time since receiving his life sentence, Mr. Untouchable is the true-life story of a junkie turned multimillionaire drug lord, who came to dominate the heroin distribution business and build his own powerful crime family.


Q&A with Marc Levin, Joseph 'Jazz' Hayden (former Nicky Barnes associate, Mr. Untouchable subject), and 'Freeway' Rick Ross (via Skype) followed by a reception. 


Sunday, December 8th, 4:00pm    




Documenting Urban America: 

A Masterclass with Marc Levin, Mark Benjamin, and Dan Levin

This masterclass is all about looking through the lens of the street, exposing the gritty, raw reality, and celebrating it as the incubator of America's popular culture. It's about capturing a naked truth--sometimes beautiful, sometimes brutal--and giving a voice to the voiceless. The conversation will focus on how to shape and style these urban stories and characters in a way that reaches a broad audience without sacrificing authenticity.


Clips to be shown: Brick City, Captured, CHICAGOLAND, the forthcoming docu-series for CNN.




Protocols of Zion

Marc Levin, 2005, 95 min.

After the twin towers fell twelve years ago on September 11th, an outlandish and bigoted rumor rose up that claimed that no Jews had died in the attack. Marc Levin first came upon this in a conversation with an Egyptian taxi driver, who said that all Jews had been warned to stay home that day and that everything was written in the 100-year-old book, "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion." How could this discredited forgery fuel this resurgence of post-9/11 anti-semitism across the globe? In the film, Levin talks with Black Nationalists, Arab Americans, Kabbalist Rabbis, and the founder of the website Jew Watch, among others, in an attempt to understand the roots of this virulent and outrageous strain of anti-semitism. 


Q&A with Marc Levin and Albert Maysles.




Want to Become a Maysles Cinema Founding Member? 

Enjoy great benefits including free admission to all Maysles Cinema Screenings. 

Please visit our website for more  information  

Maysles Cinema Membership


To see our calendar and find out more about films screening later this month, please visit our website:  

Maysles Cinema Calendar




Suggested $10 donation at the door for all screenings but no one is turned away for lack of funds. Press comps are also always available for members of the press. 


The Maysles Institute is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council for the Arts (NYSCA) and the Union Square Awards.


 Maysles Cinema

343 Lenox Ave 

(127th and 128th streets) 

New York, NY 10027 


The Maysles Cinema was founded by documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles and is directed by Jessica Green. 


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