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Slam dance

Performance poet SAUL WILLIAMS makes a startling debut as a prison inmate in Slam. Words: Miles Fielder

’Poets are instruments of God. Our tongues are the reeds that the universe plays. There‘s no greater instrument than that which we are

The word according to Saul Williams, star of Slam, the film which picked up festival awards at Sundance and Cannes and generated a greater word- of-moutl‘. response than any other film in Edinburgh last year. One of America's premiere performance poets, Williams won the 1996 Grand Slam Championship at New York's legendary Nuyorican Poets' Cafe

It was while performing there that he was spotted by S/am's director lvlarc

'Every pat on the back is a slap in the face; compliments can really pacify you.’ Saul Williams

Levm and soon after offered the lead.

'You couldn't ask for a better introduction, a real Film 101 experience,' recalls Williams. ’An actor's first lerri should either be grounded reality or JllSl off the fucking hook, like doing some Shakespearian shit where everyone's over acting.’ Slam falls into the former category,

In Slam, ‘-.\.‘illiams plays a street poet

20 THE LIST 29 ADP-13 May 1999

who is imprisoned in a Washington DC. jall on a trumped-up drugs charge, but finds release in creative expression. Dynamic vocal performances aside, central to the film's impact is its documentary-like realism. To this end the film crew were granted an almost unprecedented level of co-operation from the Department of Corrections.

'Everyone in the prison the prisoners and the warden was intent on us having authentic footage,’ explains Williams. '50 they were like, “You’re not going to have no fake staged fights". The warden said to the prisoners, "I know you guys have been waiting for the opportunity to beat up on these correctional officers Without getting into trouble. Go for it: the cameras are on, now's your chance."

Inevitably, S/am’s success has attracted the attention of Hollywood and Williams has been inundated with offers from casting agents.

’It’s very difficult, not in the sense of fighting off the offers; the main thing you got to fight is yourself,’ he says in cool, measured tones. ’Every pat on the back is a slap in the face; compliments can really pacify you. Then you lose sight of that ultimate goal, which is to play a central role in the global human process. I'm interested in art, and art is art when it touches people's lives. I know that’s what Slam does.’

Glasgow Film Theatre from Fri 30 Apr. Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 7 May. See review and competitions page.

Tel: 0141 332 7521



CCA opens at the. McLellan Galleries on the. evening of the. 30th April 1999 with a preview of 'Marc Newson Bucky 11'.

The exhibition will present a number of key designs bearing the. Newson stamp including the 'Bucky Ball” which is created from 60 Marc Newson 'Bucky' chairs. Subsequent to the exhibition. these 'Bucky' chairs will be available to the public for sale.

Marc Newson has previously designed furniture for lclee. Cappellini and 8&8 llalia. household objects for Magis. Alessi and iittala and a range of interiors including restaurants. a recording studio and most recently. a private jet.

The exhibition preview will be followed by a party at 350

Sauchiehall Street which marks the start of a two-year lottery funded redevelopment of the building for CCA.

For further information and enquiries regarding the 'Btteky' chairs please contact Morag l-lendry on 0141 332 7521.

CCA at McLellan Galleries 270 Sauchiehall Street Glasgow 02 31511


Archimuire .nd Design


Fax: 0141 332 3226

Saul Williams: poetry in motion