Broken Story – GI, Costello and Willa Lee are street poets, hip-hop artists and songwriters from north Dublin. For these young men self-expression in the form of poetry, rap and song has become a spiritual experience. Their aim is simply to articulate the chaos that surrounds them and to fight it with their words and voices alone. Along the way it has become their identity, their religion and, as they claim themselves, they are its high priests.
In the end, the place where they live and their words are one and the same, constantly in flux, full of darkness and light. It is proof that these suburbs – that have bred darkness, murder and hate – have also inspired poetry and these unlikely artists are using words alone to fight back.
We got the chance to ask Claire Dix (director of the new documentary film ‘Broken Song’) a few questions, here’s what she had to say for herself.
The art of documentary film making seems to have come to the fore in recent years with films such as ‘Man on Wire’ and ‘Searching for Sugar man’ being hugely successful, is that something that inspired you?
The Arts Council has been running the Reel Art scheme that Broken Song was funded through for many years and it encourages the documentaries it funds to be created as works of art. One of the films that was very inspirational for me when we were figuring out how to approach this documentary are Bruce Weber’s film about Chet Baker called Let’s Get Lost. I loved the look of this film and the way it was structured, it has a lovely jazzy, poetic feel and this was something that inspired Broken Song.
What made you want to film about the Irish rap scene, is it something you were always interested in, or something you stumbled upon?
I was working with DCTV (Dublin Coummunity TV) in 2010 on a programme about community arts in Dublin. I met Dean Scurry – the lads’ manager in the film – while making this programme. He introduced me to GI and Costello. I had very little knowledge of the Irish hip hop before I met them but after hearing them, the power in their lyrics and in how they rapped I know I wanted to find out more.
Do you see this as a documentary about people or about a music scene?
It’s definitely about people rather than a scene.
How much time did you spend with those involved, and how many hours of recording did you have to whittle down?
We filmed from March to November 2012. I don’t know how many hours exactly, I’ll just say – a lot. We had an observational style of filming so that always means that you have to film a lot more than will end up in the film.
Why do you think rap scene has taken off to the degree it has in Dublin?
Maybe it’s the fact that it feels genuine, the artists are rapping in their own accents about their own communities and lives and it doesn’t feel like just a rip off or a poor replication.
Broken Song which will open at the IFI on November 15th and Axis Ballymun on Nov 27th.