Interview With Director of ‘Hip Hop Revolucion’ Pablo Navarrete (@alboradafilms)


Brit­ish act­iv­ist Jody McIntyre travels to Venezuela with UK-Iraqi rap­per Lowkey to spend time with ‘Hip Hop Revolu­ción’, a dynam­ic col­lect­ive of music­al revolu­tion­ar­ies.
They wit­ness their inspir­ing grass­roots work and share music and ideas, explor­ing the cul­tur­al and polit­ic­al changes tak­ing place in the coun­try.
At its heart, this film is about the power of music, com­munity and the spir­it of rebel­lion. We meet dir­ect­or Pablo Nav­ar­rete to see how it all came togeth­er.

What was the inspir­a­tion behind Hip Hop Revolu­cion?

I’d wanted to make a film about the Hip Hop Revolu­cion col­lect­ive for a while. I first met some of their mem­bers when I was liv­ing in Venezuela (between 2005 and 2007). I inter­viewed the rap­per Mas­ter from the col­lect­ive for my first doc­u­ment­ary ‘Inside the Revolu­tion’, which was filmed in late 2008 on the eve of the 10th anniversary of Hugo Chávez assum­ing the pres­id­ency and the start of what people call the “Bolivari­an revolu­tion” or “Bolivari­an pro­cess”. This first film focused on try­ing to under­stand the “Bolivari­an” pro­cess, as that: a pro­cess, and one that is rooted in Venezuelan and Lat­in Amer­ic­an his­tory. I was fas­cin­ated with the inter­view Mas­ter gave for the film and his views on the power of cul­ture as a bridge to dis­cuss­ing polit­ic­al events. Because of what I wanted to achieve with the first film, I couldn’t really go deep­er into the issues he’d brought up. So when the oppor­tun­ity arose to go to Venezuela with Jody McIntyre and Lowkey, it made per­fect sense for them link with Hip Hop Revolu­cion and explore what they were up to.

Who are a part of the pro­duc­tion team? 

So the pro­duc­tion team was the mighty Glob­al­Fac­tion on pho­to­graphy, I did sound, dir­ec­tion and pro­duc­tion and the excel­lent Beat­rix Grimbly did the edit­ing. My good friend Agent of Change pro­duced a spe­cial song for the film, which fea­tures Jamil Herezi, a key mem­ber of the Hip Hop Revolu­cion col­lect­ive who was born in Chica­go. One of the high­lights dur­ing the shoot was feel­ing genu­inely inspired by Hip Hop Revolucion’s work and how ideal­ist­ic they were about want­ing to fight for a bet­ter world and their belief in the power of hip hop to trans­form com­munit­ies. I hope the film man­ages to con­vey this sense of pro­found ideal­ism that I feel lies behind the work the col­lect­ive does.

Do you con­sider your­self an act­iv­ist?

First and fore­most I would say that I am journ­al­ist and doc­u­ment­ary film­maker. How­ever, by cov­er­ing stor­ies that the main­stream media ignores or cov­ers in a dis­tor­ted way, I guess some people would call that act­iv­ism. For me there is a clear link between the interests of the main­stream media and the interests of the most power­ful gov­ern­ments in the world today. The main­stream media are act­iv­ists for the power­ful. Venezuela provides an import­ant example of how the main­stream Eng­lish media has sys­tem­at­ic­ally demon­ised a gov­ern­ment (Chávez and now Maduro) that goes against the interests of the power­ful. Spe­cific­ally the US gov­ern­ment and cor­por­ate friends have tried to squash Venezuela for dar­ing to stand up to it.

I also think the idea of “object­ive” journ­al­ism is a myth. Every­one brings their own pre­ju­dices and biases to stor­ies and the large media cor­por­a­tions have in my opin­ion very clear agen­das when it comes to cov­er­ing events in coun­tries such as Venezuela. Some people in the  BBC might think they’re “unbiased” but the evid­ence tells anoth­er story.

From your per­spect­ive, can the UK reach social­ism?

The UK gov­ern­ment is a cruel, crim­in­al gov­ern­ment that abuses the weak­est in soci­ety. I’m really glad the inspir­a­tion­al Ken Loach made this point clearly when he picked up his BAF­TA for his bril­liant film ‘I, Daniel Blake’. I would call myself a social­ist but for me the label isn’t import­ant. We need to urgently look for polit­ic­al solu­tions that replace our cor­rupt lead­ers with people who are pre­pared to pro­mote a sys­tem of gov­ern­ment that val­ues peace, com­pas­sion and the cre­ation of a sus­tain­able, way of liv­ing where every­one fairly con­trib­utes to and shares in the wealth gen­er­ated in soci­ety. The world is in a bad place and we need des­per­ately need altern­at­ives.

Are there any artists our read­ers must check out?

I’m not hip hop expert but when in terms of Lat­in Amer­ic­an hip hop I rate MuchoCumo and Ibi Kino from Hip Hop Revolu­cion, Chilean rap­pers Porta­voz, and Ana Tijoux. And there’s Cuba’s Obse­sion and Danay Suarez, and Puerto Ric­an rap­per Luis Diaz from Inti­fada. Luis Diaz per­fomed at Hip Hop Revolucion’s 8th anniversary con­cert Lowkey head­lines that fea­tures in the film.

Do you have any anec­dotes to share with us?

Let me see… Well, Kareem (Lowkey) isn’t too bad at salsa dan­cing!

Hip Hop Revolu­cion screens in Shef­field on Thursday 16 Feb­ru­ary with a post-screen­ing Q&A with Pablo Nav­ar­rete. The event is sup­por­ted by I Am Hip-Hop Magazine

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.