Dir. David LaChapelle.US. 2004. 84mins.
A delirious celebrationof dance, Rize is an eye-popping portrait of a south-central Los Angelescommunity that has turned its back on gang culture to embrace the music andmotion of a dance craze known as "krumping".
Having screened inSundance's American Spectrum strand, where Lions Gate Films acquired worldwiderights, this potent combination of lithesome gyrations and super-fastmanipulations will bring down the house in specialised markets throughout thedomestic market.
International prospects aremore likely to centre on TV sales although limited theatrical release may makesense if a distributor can harness the hip-hop audience. Home or abroad,cross-promotion with radio and local recording industry representatives will beessential.
First-time film-maker DavidLaChapelle is no neophyte, having directed video clips for the likes of MacyGray, Moby and Jennifer Lopez, not to mention a major body of work as acommercial photographer. That fine sense of composition is everywhere apparentin Rize, particularly in the appreciation of the human form.
Leaving off from his shortfilm, Krumped, which won an honourable mention at last year's Sundancefestival, Rize sets the stage with Tommy The Clown, a reformed drug dealerwho has turned his life around by establishing a niche as a krumping clownperforming at local birthdays and now fronts a troupe that combines clowningand krumping.
The film expands to embraceTommy's circle - the young men and women who have changed their lives byfollowing his example - and then widens further to illustrate how krumping hascaught fire in the entire community, as LaChapelle introduces a host of othertroupes and pretenders, all of whom seem progressively more kinetic.
Krumping must be seen to bebelieved - the film begins with a disclaimer that none of the sequences aresped-up. Large and small, skinny and obese, the rapturous dancers give it theirall at a large show-down at a local auditorium. It reaches a feverish climax inits duelling variant; like a mime form of combat rap but set to a furious beat,the participants attempt to outperform the other with a series of fluid movespunctuated by explosive contortions that cheat the eye's ability to processmotion.
Cinematographer MorganSusser does justice to every dodge and feint, capturing the intoxicating energyof the performers, from the tiniest enthusiast to the meanest, leanestsweat-soaked torso.
The film doesn't shy awayfrom the hard facts of life in a community synonymous with gang violence andunder-class despair - indeed, some of the krumping is inspired byracially-charged incidents such as the beating of Rodney King at the hands ofLA police officers, the spark that set the community ablaze in the early 1990s.As Tommy's team wins the krumping tournament he learns that his home has beenransacked by burglars who have taken advantage of the well-publicized evening.The reversal is a stunning cinematic moment: a massive clown weeping in angerand frustration.
But the film ends on anupbeat, as LaChapelle showcases the fusion of Latino and white dancers into thescene. The final sequence is simply astonishing, with two stripped-down dancersperforming at full throttle in the concrete bed of the Los Angeles River. LionsGate, your trailer is ready.
Prod co: HSI Prods
Int'l sales: HSI Productions
Exec prod: Isabel Whitaker
Prods: David LaChapelle, MarcHawker, Ellen Jacobson-Clarke
Cine: Morgan Susser
Ed: Fernando Villena