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  • 1/04/07

    Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

    to have its television premiere on PBS, Tuesday, Febuary 20 at 10 PM

    Filmmaker Byron Hurt takes an in-depth look at manhood, sexism and homophobia in rap music and hip-hop culture

    Visit the program companion website >>

    (San Francisco, CA)—HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhyme sis a fascinating, personal and heartfelt documentary that goes beyond the bling to explore gender roles in hip-hop and rap music through the lens of filmmaker Byron Hurt, a former college quarterback turned activist. Conceived as a “loving critique” from a self-proclaimed “hip-hop head,” Hurt focuses on issues of masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today’s hip-hop culture by talking with rappers, moguls and fans. The film, which premiered to great acclaim at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, will air nationally on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 10PM (check local listings.)

    HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes features revealing interviews with rappers including Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss and Busta Rhymes and hip-hop moguls Russell Simmons, Chris Lighty and Corey Smyth, along with commentary from Michael Eric Dyson, Beverly Guy- Sheftall, Carmen Ashurst, Kevin Powell and Sarah Jones and interviews with young women at Spelman College, a historically black college and one of the nation’s leading liberal arts institutions. HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymesalso reveals the complex intersection of culture, commerce and gender through on-the-street interviews with aspiring rappers and fans at hip-hop events throughout the country.

    “In the past 20 years, hip-hop has become a critically acclaimed, billion dollar industry,” says filmmaker Byron Hurt. “How do black men feel about the representations of manhood in hip-hop? How do black women and men feel about the pervasive images of scantily clad and sexually objectified women in rap music and videos? What do today’s rap lyrics tell us about the collective consciousness of black men and women from the hip-hop generation? What does homoeroticism in hip-hop media look like? These are the types of questions I set out to explore in this film and to provide thoughtful dialogue from intelligent, divergent voices of rap artists, industry executives, rap fans and social critics from inside and outside the hip-hop generation.”

    HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, produced and directed by Byron Hurt, is a co-production of God Bless the Child Productions, Inc. and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). Executive Producer is Stanley Nelson. Executive Producer for ITVS is Sally Jo Fifer. The film is co-produced and edited by Sabrina Schmidt Gordon.

    Partial List of On-Screen Participants, in Order of Appearance Dougie Fresh, Rapper, known as “The Entertainer” KRS-ONE, Rapper and Activist Chris Lighty, CEO of Violator Records/Management M-1, Rapper Conrad Tillard, Hip-Hop Minister/Activist, Executive Director of Movement for CHHANGE (Consciou Hip-Hop Activism Necessary for Global Empowerment), NYC Busta Rhymes, Rapper Toni Blackman, Rapper D12, Rap Group Fat Joe, Rapper Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Cultural Critic and Author of “Is Bill Cosby Right?” Dr. James Peterson, Hip-Hop Scholar, Penn State University Kevin Powell, Author, Hip-Hop Historian/Activist Dr. William Jelani Cobb, Scholar and Author Mos Def, Rapper Talib Kweli, Rapper Chuck Creekmur, Hip-Hop Writer and Co-Founder of allhiphop.com Jackson Katz, Anti-Sexism Activist and Author Chuck D, Rapper/Activist Jadakiss, Rapper Sarah Jones, Tony Award-winning Performance Artist/Playwright Mikael Moore, Morehouse Graduate and Aide to Congresswoman Maxine Waters Sut Jhally, Scholar, University of Massachusetts Dr. Beverly Guy Sheftall, Scholar, Spelman College, Atlanta Russell Simmons, Hip-Hop Executive 50 Cent, Rapper Tim'm West, Rapper Emil Wilbekin, Former Editor-in-Chief of Vibe Magazine Mark Anthony Neal, Author and Scholar, Duke University Carmen Ashurst, Scholar and former Def Jam Executive Stephen Hill, Senior VP of Music Programming, BET

    HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymesis also being used in a large-scale national outreach program of screenings and discussions, featuring a wide variety of national partners: A Call to Men; National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women; Boys and Girls Clubs of America; Center for American Progress/Campus Progress; Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture—University of Chicago; Center for Family Policy and Practice—University of Wisconsin; Center for the Study of Sport and Society; Women of Color Resource Center; Youth Movement Records; Family Violence Prevention Fund; Just Think Foundation; Ms. Foundation; National Hip-Hop Political Convention; National Women’s Alliance; and Sports Leadership Institute—Adelphi University. For more information on the national outreach campaign, visit itvs.org/outreach/hiphop.

    The HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes interactive companion website (pbs.org/hiphop) features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film and more.

    ABOUT THE FILMMAKER

    Byron Hurt (Producer/Director) is the New York-based producer of the award-winning documentary and underground classic, I Am A Man: Black Masculinity in America and Moving Memories: The Black Senior Video Yearbook. Hurt, 36, is a former Northeastern University football star and long-time gender violence prevention educator. For more than five years, he was the associate director and founding member of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, the leading college-based rape and domestic violence prevention initiative for professional athletics. He is also the former associate director of the first gender violence prevention program in the United States Marine Corps. Hurt was the recipient of the prestigious Echoing Green public service fellowship in 1999, an award given to ambitious young activists devoted to creating social change in their communities. Over the past decade, Hurt has lectured at more than 100 college campuses and trained thousands of young men and women on issues related to gender, race, sex, violence, music and visual media.

    Press Contact: Mary Lugo: 770/623-8190, lugo@negia.net Cara White: 843/881-1480, carapub@aol.com Voleine Amilcar, ITVS: 415/356-8383 x 244, voleine<em>amilcar@ivs.org Randall Cole, ITVS: 415/356-8383 x 254, randall</em>cole@itvs.org

  • 1/18/06

    Beyond Beats and Rhymes Premieres in Spectrum Program at 2006 Sundance Film Festival

    Filmmaker Byron Hurt takes in-depth look at manhood, sexism and homophobia In rap music and hip-hop culture.

    Film features interviews with top rappers and hip-hop moguls including Mos Def, Chuck D, Busta Rhymes and Russell Simmons

    (San Francisco) BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture, is a riveting documentary that examines representations of gender roles in hip-hop and rap music through the lens of filmmaker Byron Hurt, a former college quarterback turned activist. Conceived as a “loving critique” from a self-proclaimed “Hip-Hop Head,” Hurt tackles issues of masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today's hip-hop culture.

    BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES features revealing interviews with famous rappers including Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D, Jadakiss and Busta Rhymes and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons; along with commentary from Michael Eric Dyson, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Kevin Powell and Sarah Jones and interviews with young women at Spelman College, a historically black school and one of the nation's leading liberal arts institutions. BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES also reveals the complex intersection of culture, commerce and gender through on-the-street interviews with aspiring rappers and fans at hip-hop events throughout the country.

    “In the past 20 years, hip-hop has become a critically acclaimed billion dollar industry,” says BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES filmmaker Byron Hurt. “How do black men feel about the representations of manhood in hip-hop? How do black women and men feel about the pervasive images of scantily clad and sexually objectified women in rap music and videos? What do today's rap lyrics tell us about the collective consciousness of black men and women from the hip-hop generation? What does homoeroticism in hip-hop media look like? These are the types of questions I set out to explore in this film and to provide thoughtful dialogue from intelligent, divergent voices of rap artists, industry executives, rap fans and social critics from inside and outside the hip-hop generation.”

    Hurt, 35, is a former Northeastern University football star and a long-time gender violence prevention educator. For more than five years, he was the associate director and founding member of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, the leading rape and domestic violence prevention initiative for colleges throughout the country and for professional athletics. He is also the former associate director of the first gender violence prevention program in the United States Marine Corps.

    BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES will have its broadcast début on PBS's Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens next year.

    BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES, produced and directed by Byron Hurt, is a co-production of God Bless the Child Productions, Inc. and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). Executive Producer is Stanley Nelson. Executive Producer for ITVS is Sally Jo Fifer. BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES is co-produced and edited by Sabrina Schmidt Gordon.

    ABOUT NBPC

    The National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) is a non-profit national media arts organization committed to the presentation, funding, promotion, distribution and preservation of positive images of African Americans and the African Diaspora. Since 1990 NBPC has dispersed over six million dollars to independent filmmakers, whose works have provided several hundred hours of programming on the national PBS system. Its primary source of funding is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. NBPC supports insightful outreach programs targeted for the national PBS schedule and in the spirit of healthy competition presents a bi-annual international film festival called Prized Pieces.

    ABOUT ITVS

    Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens Tuesdays at 10 PM on PBS.

    ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. Congress established ITVS in 1991 as part of a historic mandate to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and nurture underserved audiences. Since ITVS's inception, its programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing television audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting itvs.org. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people.

  • 1/18/06

    Beyond Beats and Rhymes: Director's Statement from Byron Hurt

    About five years ago, in 2000, I was watching the rap music video countdown on BET's Rap City—one of my favorite pastimes—when I noticed that nearly every video appeared to be the same. They all featured guys throwing money at the camera, dudes in fancy cars showing off their “iced-out” jewelry and, of course, lots of barely dressed, sexually available women as background props.

    As I saw how formulaic rap music videos had become—with their limited and narrow representations of manhood—I began to wonder, how do black men feel about the representations of manhood in hip-hop culture? How do black women and men feel about the pervasive images of scantily clad and sexually objectified women in rap music and videos? How do black males truly feel about the way women and violence are talked about in rap music? What do today's rap lyrics tell us about the collective consciousness of black men and women from the hip-hop generation? What does homoeroticism in hip-hop media look like? I decided to pick up the camera to make a film about the gender politics of the music and the culture that I grew up with and loved: Hip-Hop.

    I have not always paid such close attention to gender politics. But after I graduated from Northeastern University in 1993, the university's Center for the Study of Sport in Society hired me—a former Northeastern quarterback —to help create a program to educate young men about gender and sexual violence called the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program. At that point, I knew next to nothing about these issues, so I read and learned as much as I could about rape, sexual assault, battering and sexual harassment. I reflected on how these issues affected my own life and thought deeply about how, as a male, I had been socialized.

    In 1993, I nervously addressed my first group of men, a college basketball team. With every workshop, I grew more confident and passionate about ending men's violence against women. Looking back, my involvement for more than 10 years with the MVP program was a turning point in my life.

    I wanted to share what I had learned about gender with other black males in my community, so in 1994, I produced and directed the documentary, I Am A Man: Black Masculinity in America, a film that examined black masculine identity in American culture. But hip-hop had not yet become the pop culture success it is today, and I Am A Man did not address its impact on the masculine identity of young black and Latino men from the hip-hop generation.

    BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES is my attempt to pick up where I Am A Man left off and start a discourse on hip-hop and its declarations on gender. In the past five years, I have gathered thoughtful, divergent voices discussing this topic, including celebrity rap artists, industry executives, rap fans and social critics from inside and outside the hip-hop generation. I look forward to continuing this dialogue and the future participation of audiences who watch this film.

    -- Byron Hurt

  • 1/18/06

    Beyond Beats and Rhymes: Filmmaker Bios

    God Bless the Child Productions, Inc. A Film by: Byron Hurt Directed and Produced by: Byron Hurt Edited and Co-Produced by: Sabrina Schmidt Gordon Executive Produced by: Stanley Nelson

    GOD BLESS THE CHILD PRODUCTIONS, INC. is a documentary production company that creates socially relevant, cutting-edge documentary films for diverse national and international audiences. Founded by filmmaker Byron Hurt in 1993, the company's first documentary video, Moving Memories: The Black Senior Video Yearbook was made in collaboration with Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalism professor, Andrew P. Jones. Hurt and Jones developed the 50-minute documentary about the dreams, aspirations and trials of 55 graduating African American seniors at a predominantly white New England university.

    Hurt and Jones teamed up again for God Bless the Child's second documentary film, I Am A Man: Black Masculinity in America, which won the International Prized Pieces Community Choice Award. Hurt has toured with I Am A Man, showing the film to diverse audiences throughout the United States.

    BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES, is God Bless the Child's third film.

    BYRON HURT - DIRECTOR, PRODUCER

    Byron Hurt is the New York-based producer of the award-winning documentary and underground classic, I Am A Man: Black Masculinity in America and Moving Memories: The Black Senior Video Yearbook.

    Hurt, 35, is a former Northeastern University football star and long-time gender violence prevention educator. For more than five years, he was the associate director and founding member of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, the leading college-based rape and domestic violence prevention initiative for professional athletics. He is also the former associate director of the first gender violence prevention program in the United States Marine Corps.

    Byron Hurt was the recipient of the prestigious echoing green public service fellowship in 1999, an award given to ambitious young activists devoted to creating social change in their communities. Over the past decade, Hurt has lectured at more than 100 college campuses and trained thousands of young men and women on issues related to gender, race, sex, violence, music and visual media.

    SABRINA SCHMIDT GORDON - EDITOR, CO-PRODUCER

    BEYOND BEATS AND RHYMES' Co-Producer and Editor Sabrina Schmidt Gordon has been committed to educational, cultural and social advocacy programming for over a decade. Her editing “debut” garnered an Emmy for WGBH's Greater Boston Arts series. She has worked in both producing and editing capacities on numerous award-winning documentaries for public television and cable. She also collaborates with non-profit and grassroots organizations to create video programs. Most recently, she worked with Witness, an organization founded by Peter Gabriel that trains activists around the world to use video as a tool for social change. Gordon is also the Producer and Director of the upcoming 180 Days, a documentary about the NYC Teaching Fellows Program and ROUGHSTARS, a profile of the band at the forefront of the “rock and bounce” music scene in New York City.

    STANLEY NELSON - EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    Stanley Nelson, a 2002 MacArthur “genius” Fellow, is Executive Producer of Firelight Media, a not-for-profit documentary production company dedicated to giving a voice to people and issues that are marginalized in popular culture. Nelson is a multiple award-winning documentary filmmaker with over 20 years' experience and is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking historical documentaries that illuminate critical but overlooked history. His 2003 film, The Murder of Emmett Till, was broadcast nationally on PBS's American Experience to rave reviews, and Nelson went on to win the Primetime Emmy for Best Directing for nonfiction; the Special Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival; a coveted award from the International Documentary Association; and the highest honor in broadcast journalism, the George Foster Peabody award, among many others. His 2004 film, A PLACE OF OUR OWN, a semi-autobiographical look at the African American middle class, moved audiences to tears at the Sundance Film Festival's documentary competition and in national broadcast on PBS's acclaimed series Independent Lens. With four films in competition at Sundance in the past six years and multiple industry awards, Nelson is acknowledged as one of the premier documentary filmmakers working today.

    GOD BLESS THE CHILD PRODUCTIONS, INC. 58 Acorn Avenue Central Islip, NY 11722 516-909-6063/ bhurt@optonline.net