Starline Entertainment has nabbed the rights to “Born in New York, Raised in Paris,” which looks at the rise and rise of hip-hop music and culture in France.
It is Bafta-nominated director and producer Victoria Thomas’ first feature documentary, and Starline has taken global rights. A roll-call of French hip-hop names appear in the film including Mokobe, Menelik, Kery James and Ekoue of La Rumeur, alongside legendary Public Enemy frontman Chuck D.
Thomas’ Polkadot Factory produces alongside filmmaker, writer, and journalist Rokhaya Diallo (“Not Yo’ Mama’s Movement”). Severine Catelion and New York and Paris-based talent manager Yasmina F. Edwards have co-production credits.
France is the biggest market for hip-hop globally outside the U.S., and, as in the U.S., the music is inextricably linked with race and politics in France and is a voice for the country’s disenfranchised.
Thomas speaks of one incident that convinced her to explore the issue of race in the film. “An encounter with the police on an overnight train from Berlin made the lyrics finally resonate, because up until I spoke in English with a British accent, I was a suspect,” she said. “There was a distinction and ranking in blackness, and the irony was not lost on me. But I knew at that point that I could no longer distance myself from racial profiling on the grounds I was not French.”
Starline’s director of acquisitions, Piers Nightingale, added: “Few can deny the enormous cultural impact hip-hop has had globally, but with our current political and social landscape increasingly polarized across racial fault lines, this unique film sets out to show how rap music exploded, beyond mere entertainment, into a ringing shout of defiance against injustice.”
“Born in New York, Raised in Paris” is in post-production and deliver in January or February 2018.