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3.5 out of 4 stars

Title
Rap is War
Directed by
Jesse Acevedo
Country
USA/Cuba
Language
Spanish

"This album will be the end of us," predicts the wildly popular underground Cuban rap duo Los Aldeanos, who deeply love their country but despise the regime. Banned from radio play in Cuba, these outspoken outlaw hip hop stars burn their own CDs and distribute them by bicycle on the streets of Havana; and take long, winding bus trips to play secret shows – that may be cancelled at the last minute by nervous promoters. The danger is real, as we learn in a clandestine interview with a devastated mother, whose two sons are in jail, she explains, for simply listening to their music. Shot by an anonymous camera operator, this powerful and brave documentary points the (often hidden) camera at ordinary, oppressed lives – people who cannot find eggs or tomatoes to buy, while a few miles away oblivious tourists are treated to the overabundance of the all-inclusive experience. As Los Aldeanos – and this film – make clear, life for many Cubans is no beach.

At VIFF: Sept. 27, 9:30 p.m., International Village; Oct. 1, 1:40 p.m., International Village; Oct. 10, 12:15 p.m., Cinematheque

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