The filmmaker, Bryan Little, says that his initial objective was to make short films introducing the different styles of dance for Red Bull South Africa, for a dance event to be held annually. But it didn't take long, during the process, before he realized that there was a much bigger story to be told, and thus the feature film documentary was born.
The film charts the journeys of several street-dance-crews in the townships of South Africa as they prepare for the Red Bull Beat Battle. What emerges from the different narrative strands is a complex and redemptive story of how urban youth locked up in the country’s ghettos are able to transcend the harshness of their circumstances through dance.
Titled The African Cypher, it took a year to shoot, with locations all over the country, the filmmakers' goal being to integrate themselves into the lives of the dancers and the communities as much as possible, and approach the craft from a place of respect, instead of exploitative, and show the people the film documents truthfully.
The African Cypher will next screen at the Durban International Film Festival this month, with the long term goal being to enter the film into major international film festivals, and afterward, shop it around to broadcasters all over tthe world.
"We are also passionate about and committed to having local screenings in the communities that helped make the film possible," the filmmaker said.
And while we wait for it to travel, watch the trailer below courtesy of our friends at Twitch: