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This Is The Life

Friday, May 13, 2016 - 2:45pm
Trailer(s)

This Is The Life

Ava DuVernay | 
USA |
 2008 | 
97 minutes

THIS FILM IS PART OF BLACK LIFE IS, AIN’T AND STILL RISES, CURATED BY REBECCA CARROLL.

Before she went on to make epics like Selma and the upcoming adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved novel A Wrinkle in Time, director Ava DuVernay cut her directorial teeth in documentary. Her debut film This Is The Life documents the life and times of The Good Life Café. Part of our curated program from writer Rebecca Carroll (read her excellent essay here), This Is The Life is a vibrant portrait of the early days of L.A. hip hop. At the time of the film’s making, Ava (then called Eve) was working as an MC at the café. Performers as varied as Snoop Dog, Ice Cube, Lenny Kravitz, and will.i.am made pilgrimage to the Café’s legendary open-mic nights. In addition to a strict no cursing policy, artists and poets were allowed to perform one song apiece before passing the mic on to the next performer. -DW

The Good Life Café was a health-food store in South Central L.A. that held open-mic hip-hop nights once a week from 1989- 95, a period that just happened to coincide with hip-hop’s sudden maturation into a culturally and commercially significant medium. As such, the café became ground zero for the burgeoning L.A. scene and an eclectic melting pot of black youth culture, with college students, gang members, hippies, Five Percenters and churchgoers alike all meeting to trade rhymes. The scene was especially fruitful for the subgenre that would later be tagged “conscious” or “alternative” hip-hop, with groups Jurassic 5, Freestyle Fellowship and the Project Blowed collective among its best-known alumni. -VARIETY

Filmmaker

Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay (pictured standing, middle) is a writer, producer, director and distributor of independent film. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, her most recent film Selma chronicles the historic 1965 voting rights campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. DuVernay made her directorial debut with the critically­-acclaimed 2008 hip hop documentary, This Is The Life. She has since directed several network documentaries, including VENUS VS for ESPN.