Starring: Tommy the Clown, Tight Eyez, Lil’ C and Miss Prissy
Rated: PG-13 Documentary, Music
Rize is an independent documentary that is essentially compartmentalized around three aspects of two energetic and complex dance cultures, Clowning and Krumping, in the South Central community of Los Angeles, California.
Featuring interviews and performances as the primary content, the first discusses how Clowning was an extension from hip-hop culture, which was founded in the 1980s on the East Coast. Composed of five elements, hip-hop naturally influenced this West Coast innovation. Viewers of this newer style, Clowning, can readily see these cultural elements, including B-boy and B-girl styles of dancing or “breakin’”; graffiti and “taggin’”; and consciousness of the community.
The second aspect is Krumping, which organically grew from Clowning. Obviously, one will see this form’s connection with its predecessors. Tommy the Clown, a former drug dealer, is considered to be the most famous performer of Clowning. Lil’ C and Miss Prissy, who were mentored by Tommy, founded Krumping. Both styles are more than simply dancing; they were created as a means for its dancers to positively express themselves and retain optimism in urban communities that suffer various blights from unemployment and undereducation to proliferation of gangs and violence.
The final aspect of the film is centered upon an annual dance battle developed by Tommy the Clown. Coined “The Battle Zone”, the dance competition takes place at the Great Western Forum. It is between the Clowns and Krumpers and there are diverse categories, such as Lil Mama and Big Boy, at the competition.
Regardless of the judges’ decisions, all those involved are winners for doing more to be better in life!
Rize was written and directed by the acclaimed photographer and videographer, David LaChapelle. Acclaimed by many critics, including Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times and Sid Smith for the Chicago Tribune, this indie was championed as “a knockout … a virtual miracle” by Rolling Stone. A box-office hit, Rize won “Best Documentary” at the Aspen Short Fest and the “Short Filmmaking Award” at the Sundance Film Festival, both in 2004. Two years later, it won “Best Documentary” at the Bangkok International Film Festival.
An accompanying soundtrack to Rize was released also in 2005. It features tracks by artists including Christina Aguilera, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Dizzee Rascal, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Los Angelenos, Flii Stylz and Planet Asia.