A special community screening of the Independent Lens film P-Star Rising was recently held in Chicago. The film, which airs tomorrow night at 10:00 PM on Independent Lens on PBS, looks at nine-year-old Pricilla who wants to be the youngest female rap star ever and her single father who is determined to help her make it big. Find out what happened from Chicago-based Regional Outreach Coordinator Naomi Walker.
P-Star (aka Priscilla Diaz) and her father Jesse Diaz visited Chicago to participate in the 2nd Annual Winter Block Party for Chicago Hip-Hop Arts, presented by Chicago Public Radio and hosted by hip-hop poet Kevin Coval. The morning began with a screening of P-Star Rising followed by a Q&A with Priscilla and Jesse. The audience at the Victory Gardens Theatre was full of families eager to hear about the struggles of navigating the often cut-throat music industry. After the Q&A, Jesse and Priscilla were treated to a performance by the Half Pint Poetics team, made up of 5th to 8th graders from Kuumba Lynx. Priscilla was deeply moved by the young talent and asked for some beat-box assistance from one of the young performers and showed her own skills with the mike.
The director of P-Star Rising –– Gabriel Noble –– joined Jesse and Priscilla during their week in Chicago for two screenings of the film for Chicago public high school and middle school students, courtesy of Cinema/Chicago’s Education Program. Schools participating included Curie High School, Dumas Technical Academy, Lincoln Park High School, Chicago Vocational Career Academy, Austin Career Academy, and King College Prep. After the film, host Kevin Coval introduced the guests while the students greeted them with an enthusiastic reception. Several students in the audience spoke about their own ambitions for careers in the entertainment industry. Priscilla and Jesse gave sage advice on learning the business, honing your craft and not giving up despite the many setbacks that aspiring performers always encounter. And Jesse added that you should ALWAYS have a demo on you because you never know what opportunities might come along. For instance, Jesse is starting a label and looking for talent and said that if anyone had a CD they wanted to pass along, he’d be happy to check it out. Check out these clips from the Chicago screening:
The students asked all kinds of questions that adults usually don’t often ask at film festival screenings. They wanted to know how hard it is to have a father as your manager, to which Priscilla replied that there is nobody in this business she can trust better than her father to look after her interests. They wanted to know if director Gabriel’s presence got annoying. Jesse and Priscilla said that it was weird at first, but they came to trust him pretty quickly and got used to having him around all the time.
Gabriel said that it was important to him to have their trust and that he let them know early on that if ever they wanted him to turn off the camera, he would. Jesse said that if it was up to him perhaps there were some things he would have wanted to cut out of the film, but both Jesse and Priscilla love the movie and feel strongly that Gabe did a great job. When the students asked P-Star to spit a rhyme, she asked for volunteers to come up and perform for her, too. It took some coaxing from the other students, but two talented young people got up the nerve to join Priscilla on stage. Gabriel gave the two students major kudos for getting up there. And Jesse reiterated that’s what it takes to make it: jumping on every opportunity presented to you.
- Naomi Walker National Community Cinema Coordinator
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