Saturday, April 15, 2006

A World In Black and White

Reprinted for film's world debut.

I'd been excited to see DAVE CHAPPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY at the Toronto International Film Festival and was bummed when I couldn't get tickets. So last night I took my chances and tried "rushing" the film. This means you must get in line quite early and hope there are free seats available when the flick starts. Best laid plans fell apart and I showed up with only 35 minutes to showtime and discovered about 100 people in line ahead of me at the Elgin Theatre. At least I could "star watch" I thought...but the elusive Chappelle and his entourage were a no show. I did snap this pic of genius director Michel Gondry on the way up the red carpet and eventually made my way in to the flick with my friends.

The synopsis on the TIFF site raised the question: "What do you do when your net worth tops 50 million dollars?" "Start with a party." Chappelle had just signed a 50 mil contract with Comedy Central so his idea, in this verite documentary, was to throw the kind of concert he always wanted to see. With hip hop connections like his the line-up was guarateed ghettofabulous: Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, The Roots, Dead Prez, Jill Scott. As if that weren't enough to get your heart pumping, he adds THE FUGEES to the mix, reuniting after 8 long years, to the surprise to everyone at the Brooklyn Block Party. It was the most fun I've ever had at a movie and probably the only time I cried while I was dancing (standing at the back) when Lauryn Hill busted into a sweet and sultry version of Killing Me Softly. Wow.

Beyond the prep for the concert Dave made his usual jokes and pointed out some funny things about the hood in Brooklyn, where one school director welcomed him to the 'mixed school' where Black and Mexican kids played. Chappelle laughs, "this is what they call a mixed school?" The element of race was always present and I found it kind of sad that Chappelle always sees the world in black and white, though I thought it was inspiring when Wyclef spoke to the (almost all black) University marching band that were invited by Chappelle to open the party. "Don't ever blame anything on the white man...I came from Haiti and didn't speak a word of English, English was my third language and I've made a good life for myself." Take out the element of race and we can all relate to his thoughts - don't let anyone hold you back. As one black marching band student agreed..."Yeah, like Eminem said: You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, opportunity comes once in a lifetime."

Chappelle's had his opportunity, let's see what he does with it.

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