Posts Tagged ‘ The Great Hip Hop Hoax ’

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013

 

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013

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Well that is it for another year then. The A-List stars have departed whilst the opening and closing galas provided a maelstrom of dramatic flourish, flamboyance and glamour to our usual grey days and the momentum of the event provided ceaseless conversations amongst the locals. Except none of the former really happened did it?

 In fact the whole event passed pretty much unnoticed to local residents- and even to me who was a participant- and if pushed for a comment many would even have failed to notice it was actually taking place. Matters weren’t even helped by the fact the weather was remarkably pleasant with sunshine days and warm balmy evenings being the norm. Compare and contrast with last year when it rained torrentially and incessantly.

 The ultimate disappointment though must lie in the choice of movies selected with few of the films making too much of an impression either way. If honest I must admit the best film I saw during the whole thing was the 1971 Richard Fleischer classic, shown as part of a retrospective, 10 Rillington Place starring a suitably creepy Richard Attenborough as serial killer John Christie. It was the only film among the many I attended that held the audience in its spell throughout with a tension which was palpable; a matter confirmed when at a crucial moment I tore my eyes away from the action to observe an almost trancelike state audience caught up in the drama. I witnessed nothing like this sort of effect at the many new films I attended.

Mind you this may be because I attended mainly press showings but everyone knows how cynical a group of film critics can be. I am not sure this still applies to the younger ones who appeared to be barely out of diapers but wore their miserabilist tendencies in plaid with carefully selected geek chic glasses.

 Of the new films premiered the best, in my opinion, were Svengali, The Great Hip Hop Hoax, Oh Boy, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks and a Russian offering, Betrayal. The latter I haven’t got around to reviewing yet but it is an Almodovar styled film with the vivid colours and fiery passions replaced with Soviet chill to disorientating effect. The plot is highly implausible and relies on the viewer’s suspension of belief, but somehow this works to its advantage as opposed to its detriment.

 The opening film Breathe In starring Guy Pearce and the patriotic, set in Glasgow, closer Not Another Happy Ending with Karen Gillan were slightly underwhelming if the truth be told. As were the opening and closing parties which followed if I am being even more honest. In fact the best party I attended during the twelve day duration down as the most memorable film festival of recent times it is also not the most forgettable was nothing to do with the film festival but was held in an empty art studio with a bunch of non celebrities who could show the organisers of these stilted industry affairs how it should be done

 On the plus side the event was still a step in the right direction away from the low key efforts of 2011 which abandoned all parties and celebrity attendances. It also had the best and most consistent weather of any Scottish festival in recent years and perhaps this onslaught of sunshine distracted from the event as who wants to sit in a darkened cinema when it is sunny outside. Particularly to a nation as deprived of vitamin D as us Scots are.

 Now that it is all over however I must say that the best summary I can offer is that although 2013 will not go!

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THE GREAT HIP HOP HOAX

The Great Hip Hop Hoax

 HIP HOP

At first the tale of two students from Dundee who adopt American accents and pretend they are Californian in the ruthless pursuit of fame as rap stars  simply because their Scottish accents had them laughed out an A&R meeting and referred to as the ‘rapping Proclaimers’ seems unbelievable.,However this ploy which enabled them to a attain a lucrative recording deal, convincing and fooling everyone they met may seem even more highly implausible but it is in fact a true story. Jeanie Finlay delivers this documentary in a style which recalls the tale of Billy Boyd and Gavin Bain-whose stateside doppelgangers went under the pseudonyms Silibil ’n’ Brains- at the apotheosis of their deceit -around nine or ten years ago- intercut with more serious recent hindsight interviews from the duo. It is a fascinating watch and one which details the sheer determination and chutzpah necessary in achieving fame.

 Naturally charismatic, Billy Boyd attracted the attention of Gavin Bain the first time they met and an inseparable friendship was forged. Discovering several things in common what became apparent was they both had musical ambitions so joining up with a third party they formed a rap group singing in Scottish accents and became a local cause celebre due to the individual nature of their act.

Dreaming of bigger things they travelled to London and wangled an audition but were laughed at because of their Scottish accents. Disheartened, but not out, Bain-a natural born mimic- started talking and performing in an American accent. Partly  act of revenge and partly wanting to have their talent recognised through whatever means it took, the pair then both adopted Californian personas and started living, talking and breathing these imaginary characters twenty-four seven.

 Of course such a tactic is not without its drawbacks and the more attention and success which came their way, the more the chance of being discovered also hovered in the background.  Therefore some necessary self sabotage was necessary every time things looked like becoming too big whilst drug and alcohol abuse did not help to assuage the paranoia which was lingering in the air, but merely aggrieved it.

 Eventually the constant  living  a lie became too much for Boyd when abandoning the pursuit of fame in favour of marrying his childhood sweetheart and raising a family became a more attractive option thus spelling the end of the duo as a working entity.

 It is hard to imagine how two canny lads from Scotland were able to pull the wool over so many eyes but it does make an amusing tale. Particular highlights are Boyd’s blagging his way backstage into the Brits-photos with everyone fom Siouxie Sioux, Kelly Osbourne and Kasabian confirm this- where drinking with Daniel Bedingfield the first realisation that he is involved in such a grandiose  lie emerges during a heavy drinking session wherein the singer casually comments ‘I thought you were Scottish’. It is then he realises the whole ruse has a limited time frame and desperate to capitalise on this pressurises the perfectionist and reluctant Bain to rush a record out but all to no avail.

 A great exposé on the gullibility of the music industry The Great Hip Hop Hoax is an enjoyable ride which reveals that gall and chutzpah are sometimes all it takes to succeed. Despite this Boyd and Bain never actually achieved all they could as the pressures of the lie they were living eventually overtook any ambitions or creativity. This is a shame as it would have made a better ending if they had actually attained international success and then revealed the truth. This is a minor quibble though and it is still a worthwhile docufilm

The Great Hip Hop Hoax is on BBC2 Scotland at 9pm Friday October 11th.

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