Resistencia: Hip-Hop in Colombia” may never make it to MTV — it’s too gritty — but it shows, with jolting immediacy, how hip-hop is as vital and relevant to Colombia’s street culture as is was to urban African-Americans before it was co-opted by the mass media and mainstream artists.
British filmmaker Tom Feiling spent time in Colombia, where he discovered, to his astonishment, that rap had a strong following. Feiling traces the movement from the port of Buenaventura, where rap first made its way from the U.S. in the ’80s, to Bogota, where numerous street groups and urchins rap out various rhymes. Much like its origins in the U.S. — where rap was originally a tool for social resistance — hip-hop in Colombia provides a means for South American youth to express their frustrations and anger: It’s a form of popular, and populist, resistance. Left to choose between right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerillas, many young Colombians feel disenfranchised. Film could use better intertitles, and subtitles often leave one longing to hear the poetry in its original form, but this docu comes alive with rapping and breakdancing.