COURTESY SHAWN ESCOFFERY / ITVS
Byron Hurt examines how the rap culture treats women in "Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture."
Byron Hurt's documentary takes a look at hip hop's struggles with gender issues
Of the 20-odd film festivals where Byron Hurt has shown his hip-hop documentary, GiRL FeST Hawaii is the first time he's brought it to a feminist event.
GiRL FeST Hawaii
Programs: Available at Honolulu Academy of Arts' Doris Duke Theatre and The ARTS at Marks Garage, or download from girlfesthawaii.org.
Tickets: Tickets: Available at www.girlfesthawaii.org or www.honolulubox-office.com, or charge by phone at 550-8457
That should come as no surprise. One of the more important entries in this weekend's film festival, Hurt's "Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture" is the filmmaker's personal five-year journey into "the gender politics of the music and the culture that I grew up with and loved."
We watch as Hurt experiences how hyper-masculine black manhood is played out by both rap artists and their fans, and how racial and gender stereotypes are then perpetuated. He even briefly looks at the touchy subject of homoeroticism as expressed in the imagery of the bare-chested, tatted-out thug.
Hurt, 35, has also done some panels and workshops while in Honolulu. He was part of a men's leadership panel sponsored by GiRL FeST Hawaii and presented a gender violence prevention workshop, along with a screening of his film, for the University of Hawaii football team.
As the associate director and founding member of the Mentors in Violence Prevention program, the former quarterback from Boston's Northeastern University is no stranger to the islands.
"Several years ago, I did a couple of prevention programs for the Marine Corps out here," he said. "They're similar to the programs that I do for college and professional athletes whereby I get the guys to talk about real-life scenarios of being violent against women on some level.
"They're interactive workshops, where we get to the root causes of violence against women. I teach them that, if we approach this with a bystander's perspective, it can help change their peer culture.
"I also try to break through the feeling that, if you call out a teammate or friend's abusive behavior toward a girlfriend, their own masculinity won't be called into question."
Hurt tries to create an atmosphere where the men "can be as honest and candid as possible. We use humor where appropriate, and usually one or two guys know of a woman who has been abused, and they try to help other guys in the room."
COURTESY GIRL FEST
Former model Allison Beda sets out to demystify the road to career success in "How to Be a Model," screening 8 p.m. Friday at Doris Duke Theatre.
TO DEVELOP that sense of camaraderie in confronting sexism is more difficult when dealing with mainstream hip-hop culture.
"A lot of rap artists do great things, like start organizations and nonprofits to give scholarships and nurture the communities they came from," Hurt said. "Where they do fall short is dealing with gender. Rappers think they have don't have any obligation or responsibility to address gender issues and misogyny. They tend to be thought of as 'women's issues.' There's no self-interest in making a difference in that area. There's still a lot of room for growth in that area."
If what he documented at an annual Spring Bling in Daytona Beach, Fla. -- sponsored by Black Entertainment Television -- is any indication, a LOT of growth is needed. Hurt shows us young and hungry rappers spitting out violent rhymes filled with gunplay and bitches-and-hos -- that is, when they're not pointing their portable video cameras at scantily clad women on the street and in hotel lobbies.
Hurt also has some words about the women he met there, who tell their male harassers that "you not talkin' to me -- I know who I am."
"That's a knee-jerk response by a lot of women. For whatever reason, these women haven't really questioned how stuff like this affects them on a daily basis. So they're still a little bit behind in being thoughtful and smart and sophisticated on gender issues."
"Beyond Beats and Rhymes" is Hurt's second venture into documentaries. He considers it a continuation from issues he brought out in his first film "I Am a Man: Black Masculinity in America and Moving Memories -- The Black Senior Video Yearbook."
"Making this latest film felt good," he said. "I spent a lot of time on it, developing my craft. I wanted to take this film to a higher level in terms of production values. The structure of the film is tight and engaging from start to finish. With the help of a great executive producer and editor, they really took my vision from paper to screen in a powerful way."
» 8 p.m.:
"Bands Against Violence" concert with Citizen Fury, Psycho Billy Cadillac, the Hell Caminos and Dolls Till Daylight, Anna Bannana's, 2440 S. Beretania St.; $5, all ages.
Film Festival at the Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts; $6 admission
» 6 p.m.: "Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs In on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture," followed by Q&A with filmmaker Byron Hurt (see accompanying story), and short "My Letter to Hip-Hop" by festival guest and Los Angeles slam poet Bridget Gray
» 8 p.m.: "How to Be a Model" with short "To a Man With a Big Nose"
» 10 a.m.:
Zine making workshop led by Ara Laylo and Katie Whitman, ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nuuanu Ave.; $5.
» 9 p.m.: "Anna's Unplugged" featuring guests Pamela Means and Alix Olson, and local acts Johnny Helm and the Girlas, Anna Bannana's; $7, all ages.
» 2 p.m.:
"Mending Spirits" with short "Bikers Against Child Abuse"
» 4 p.m.: "Bare Hands & Wooden Limbs" with short "Ayubowan Woman's Project"
» 6 p.m.: "Left Lane," with Q&A with filmmaker Alix Olson
» 8 p.m.: "Barang" with short "Elephant Boy"
» 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.:
Closing night party with Sisters In Sound, DJ Primmitiv and DJ James Vincent, Bar 35, 35 Hotel St., 21 and over. Free before 10 p.m.; $5 cover afterward.
» 2 p.m.:
"Candy Viola," "Bootyful World," "Evidence of Existence" and "Muslim Boarders"
» 4 p.m.: "The Return of Laura Peters," "Unicorn Pride," "Civil War," "Riding the Wind" and "Winter Sea"
» 6 p.m.: "The Shape of Water" with short "Texas Gold"
» 8 p.m.: "The Visitors (Die Besucher)" and "Medusa," with shorts "Good Morning," "Moon Girl" and "Shadow of a Post Modern Dilemma"
Hurt's documentary will also air in a slightly edited form on PBS' "Independent Lens" series in February.