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Product Details

  • An MVD Exclusive
  • SKU: MVD2514D
  • Format: DVD
  • UPC: 760137251491
  • Street Date: 07/14/20
  • PreBook Date: 06/09/20
  • Label: Juno Films »
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run Time: 95 mins
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Audio: 5.1 SURROUND
  • Year of Production: 2018
  • Region Code: 1
  • Box Lot: 30
  • Territory: NORTH AMERICA
  • Language: English


Cast & Crew

  • Director: Max Powers
  • Producer: Nikhil Melnechuk
  • Producers: Nikhil Melnechuk


Product Assets



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Don't Be Nice

A team of young New York City Slam Poets competes for the National Championship during the summer of 2016.

  • List Price: $29.95  
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  • In Stock: 260
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The upstart Bowery Slam Poetry Team, made up of five young African-American, Afro-Hispanic and queer poets, prepares for the national championships. Mentored by a demanding coach who pushes them past their personal boundaries to write from a painfully honest place, the poets break down, break through, and compose their best work ever. Will their soul-searching pieces about police violence and the whitewashing of Black culture be able to compete against choreographed crowd-pleasers for the title? Lauren Whitehead coaches the Bowery Slam Team with the credo "Don't Be Nice." She explains that to "be nice" is to stay on the surface of things, is to perpetuate the status quo, and is, for black people, to be what white culture demands. Her team of poets brave their inner demons and buck societal expectations to write truthful poems, and to ultimately celebrate black joy. My goal has been to illuminate these poets' words with as little obstruction as possible, bringing the revolutionary work they've done in expanding Slam Poetry to a wider movie-going audience. Where many succumb to the polarizing simplifications of click-bait headlines, these poets do difficult personal work to come to an understanding of their relationship to race and power, and courageously share it. I made this film because I was stunned by these poets' work, and was inspired to translate it into film, a medium which can transcend time and place. I think the audience will be shocked by the radical honesty of the film's characters as they openly discuss race, class, and gender. However, the poets are always encouraged to go further than talk, and craft their thoughts and feelings into poems. Thus, the audience's shock becomes wonder, as they are invited to see from each poets' eye rather than to close theirs to difficult truths. I think "Don't Be Nice" will encourage viewers to do their own work to understand their friends, neighbors, and themselves.

Bonus Materials

  • Bonus footage to be delivered

Sales Points

  • For fans of spoken word poetry and those engaged with Black Lives Matter. Progressives.
  • WINNER – 2020 Film Threat “Award This!” Best Socially Relevant Documentary
  • WINNER – Best Director: 2019 River Bend Film Festival
  • WINNER - Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature: 2019 Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
  • NOMINEE - John Schlesinger Award: 2019 Palm Springs International Film Festival

Press Quotes

A finely observed documentary about a national slam poetry competition that rises above its traditional format to find the personal profundity in the art form.

     —Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times

The art of the spoken word, at its most powerful.

     —Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

Captures the revitalization of the artist in a world filled with doom.

     —Candace Frederick, The Wrap

If you ever want to slip into your local poetry slam, Don't Be Nice is the perfect primer for your experience. It will blow away your preconceptions and show you the art inside the artist.

     —Alan Ng, Film Threat


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