Hot Docs: United States of Africa [Yanick Létourneau, 2012]

Playing at Hot Docs Theatre this weekend, Yanick Létourneau’s United States of Africa is less a lesson in African hip hop and more of a lesson in activism in Africa. The primary story within the doc is that of Senegalese hip hop artist Didier Awadi. Set in roughly 2008, Awadi is preparing for his next album and hopes to use it as an educational tool for his fans. The album will highlight some of the more revolutionary aspects of Africa’s past, aspects he suspects is not being taught in the educational system.

The seventy minute doc follows Didier’s quest to gather information and resources for this album, and along the way educates the viewers on some of the plights of countries in Africa. We’ll meet other hip hop artists and you get a sense that there is some momentum building within the hip hop community in terms of wanting to do something about the current state of the continent.

As a documentary, the film does a good job highlighting some of the issues that Africa as a whole face today. As we follow Didier Awadi through a swath of impoverish African countries, we briefly learn about the leaders of the past who fought for Africa and subsequently paid for it with their lives. These stories make up the most compelling part of the film. Those who are fans of the artists involved might be disappointed as little footage is shown or discussed about the actual creative musical process behind the album. Actually, there is very little mention for the album at all aside from the concept behind it. It would have been nice for the director to include information about the aftermath of the album – how did it do, did it change anything, etc etc considering the whole concept of the film. However, this is one of those docs where the destination is not what counts, but the journey.

The remaining shows at Hot Docs are

Sunday July 29th at 8:45pm
Monday July 30th at 9:00pm

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.