FIFA 2015: 'Entre Ciel et Terre: Quand le hip hop devient art' is a dazzling experience

This spring marked the 33rd edition of the International Festival of Films on Art. The festival was founded in 1981 by René Rozon and has thrived over the course of the past three decades. Born out of a legacy of innovation, culture and technology, FIFA maintains the artistic legacy established by Expo 67’. It is only appropriate that one of the highlights of this year’s festival was a multimedia screening of the hip-hop documentary Entre Ciel et Terre: Quand le hip hop devient art.

Combining dance, cinema and music, the event wowed the audiences at the Société des arts technologiques. For those familiar with the legacy of Expo, having the film being screened simultaneously on 6 different screens harkens to the Labyrinth Pavillon, one of the most groundbreaking cinema events of the latter half of the 21st century. The Labyrinth was a multimedia experience that told the story of man, beginning with an extended screen (which would eventually lead to invention of Imax technologies) before members passed through a long prism like hallway before entering the final chamber which used 5 screens (Entre Ciel et Terre uses 6!).

Assuming those who planned the event had this in their minds, it becomes a very powerful allusion to that original film which documented the origins of man. The way that it ties to the physicality of hip-hop, as both subject of the film and the actual live performance is quite remarkable. Not unlike the film, this connection uses pastiche and homage in order to suggest that hip-hop is as worthy a subject as the origin of life itself.

Directed by Eric Elléna the film follows several dance crews in France as they divide their time between competitions and training. The film similarly documents Anthony Egéa and the founding of a school where he brings in street dancers in the hopes of teaching them the fundamentals of academic dance theory. The film explores not only how hip-hop has changed by innovators like Anthony Egea who have brought in classical training into the world of hip hop but also how hip hop has injected new energy into contemporary dance.

The film depicts a new kind of dance that bridges the gap between low and high art, as well as incorporating elements of gymnastics, circus arts and martial arts. Elléna shoots the dance sequences with great reverence, incorporating well-used slow motion to great effect. The dance sequences are vibrant - and are beautifully complemented by the live performances (performed by Let Your Art Flow et Forêt Noire, whose style blends more traditional hip-hop with classical training not unlike what is presented in the film). The entire event is a beautiful ode to the power of dance as an art and a way of life.