In 2008, Planet B-Boy played for a week or so in New York City and I missed it. I was so happy to find it in our neighborhood movie rental place, Video-free Brooklyn. If you want to catch it on the tele, watch Planet B-Boy on MTV this Sunday the 11th at 11:00 am or 12 midnight.
In this Benson Lee documentary, the camera narrows in on breakdance crews from five different parts of the world as they prepare for the "The Battle of the Year" - an international break dance contest which takes place in Germany.
There are a bunch of things I love about this film. First, it lets us see how five crews operate as a group. Also, it focuses on some of the individual young men in these groups - namely, on their relationship to b-boying and to their families who are sometimes skeptical of the art form.
There is a theme of Asian fathers wondering if their sons' involvement in b-boying is going to bring honor or stability to the family or community. When young men are part of a team who wins "The Battle of the Year" ( a huge honor, considering that 10,000 spectators come from all ends of the earth to watch this competition), families and entire countries change their mind about the validity of b-boying.
At "The Battle of the Year," teams from different countries eye each other suspiciously at the beginning and end up having some great bonding moments which rely on non-verbal communication given the language barriers.
This film highlights what makes b-boying an important passion for young men. (And, I might add, what makes it a desirable alternative to the preparation for warfare that all young men receive through socialization or actual military training.): B-boying simulates battle, but there is no violence; instead, there is genuine opening for athleticism; self- and group-expression; creative collaboration; artistry; dance; a connection to music, and friendships based on mutual respect with other young men.