Review: Sounds of a New Hope

August 22, 2010

Eric Tandoc’s 40-minute documentary captures Filipino American rapper Kiwi’s transformation from a gangbanger to a community organizer.

Directed by Eric Tandoc 

Political exile Jose Maria Sison said, “A song is three to five minutes, but if it has nice content and [is] sung by a good singer, it can spread very fast.” Hope and participatory change is what Filipino American rapper Kiwi (Jack de Jesus) attempts to spread through music. Eric Tandoc’s 40-minute documentary captures Kiwi’s transformation from a gangbanger in Los Angeles to San Francisco Bay Area community organizer. Tandoc borrows the title from the first episode of Star Wars, where the young Jedi transforms from an unknowing and uninvolved individual into a force in the dismantling of a malevolent empire. Footage from the United States and Philippines demonstrates Kiwi’s struggle to build community and break down Western imperialism in the hopes that national democracy can exist in his native land. Seeing Kiwi struggle while conducting rap workshops with youth in the Philippines gives the audience a glimpse into the existing Filipino American and Filipino disconnect, but it is folks like Kiwi who understand the importance of making connections. The film ultimately inspires the viewer to understand the potential social force of music by showing how hip-hop can affect youth from San Francisco’s Excelsior District to Metro Manila’s Caloocan City.

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