Ugandan b-boy Abramz Tekya seeks to help heal his war-torn country and improve the lives of its children by teaching them to breakdance. You might think that children whose lives are threatened by poverty and violence would have a lot of other priorities besides dancing, but Tekya’s students walk for miles to get to his free classes at Sharing Youth Center in Kampala.
Bouncing Cats, a documentary by director Nabil Elderkin, highlights Tekya’s organization Breakdance Project Uganda and shows how breaking and other elements of hip hop can bring youth from different tribes together peacefully and help them all to rebuild a sense of pride and identity. (Abramz classes have the added benefit of drawing young people to the community center where they have access to computers and other programs.)
The documentary centers on a visit from Crazy Legs of the legendary Rock Steady Crew. It follows Abramz and the founding b-boy on an inspiring journey through Uganda.
Besides Crazy Legs, there’s an all-star cast drawn from hip hop’s socially conscious side: Common narrates and interviews with Mos Def, Will.I.Am, and Somalian rapper K’Naan provide context.
The Bouncing Cats trailer is moving but not for the weak of heart. It makes the toll that war takes on the lives of children graphically apparent right away, so be prepared.
The documentary is already winning awards and recognition at film festivals. There are a few screenings throughout the US this month. Hopefully, there will be many more to come worldwide.