A team of young New York City Slam Poets finds its voice as it competes for the National Championship during the summer of 2016.
The upstart Bowery Slam Poetry Team, made up of five African-American, Afro-Hispanic and queer poets in their 20s, prepares for the national championships. Mentored by a demanding coach who encourages them to push past their personal boundaries and write from a place of vulnerability, pain and honesty, the poets break down, break through and compose their best work ever. Timely and difficult, their spoken word slays—but will these soul-searching pieces about police violence and the whitewashing of Black culture be able to compete against choreographed crowd-pleasers for the title? Will opting to make a statement instead of a show spell their defeat? An emotional and inspiring film that gives insightful commentary on race, gender, identity and sexual politics in America today, Don't Be Nice is both an absorbing competition doc and a vital writer's workshop that proves once and for all that winning hearts and minds is the ultimate prize.
FEATURE DOCUMENTARY (2018), rt: 1:36:00
Nominated, Best Documentary, 2018 BronzeLens Film Festival
Bowery Arts+Science & Radio Drama Network Present
A Bowery Poetry Studios Production
Directed by Max Powers
Produced by Nikhil Melnechuk, Cora Atkinson
Story Producer David Lieberman
With Ashley August, Timothy DuWhite, Joel Francois, Sean MEGA Desvignes, Noel Quińońes, Jon Sands, Lauren Whitehead
Cinematography by Peter Eliot Buntaine
Edited by David Lieberman, Nathan Punwar
Sound by Max Powers
"[T]he poets slam truth to power and demand audiences to wake up…this film will take you to places you never expected."
–Pat Mullen, POV Magazine (full review)