ThinkFilm backs new 'Project'


ThinkFilm has nabbed all worldwide rights to "The Hip Hop Project," a documentary from executive producers Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah. It is the first acquisition for the distributor since it was purchased last week by David Bergstein and Ron Tudor's Capco Group.

Directed by Matt Ruskin, "Project" centers on Chris "Kharma Kazi" Rolle, an abandoned and homeless New York teenager who grew up to develop an outreach program for troubled teens to help one another and express themselves through hip-hop. As Kazi and two of his students attempted to create their own album, rap entrepreneur Russell Simmons and Willis donated a recording studio to their "Hip Hop Project." Rapper Doug E. Fresh also makes an appearance in the chronicle of the youths' four-year struggle.

"We are extremely impressed by this film, which blends classical themes of salvation and self-discovery with utterly contemporary sights and sounds," ThinkFilm head of U.S. theatrical Mark Urman said. "Not since our own 'Born Into Brothels' have I seen such a powerful and entertaining story about young people and the redemptive power of art."

The docu will be released in theaters in the spring, and the company's ThinkFilm International division will introduce the title this week at the American Film Market.

After premiering at this year's Tribeca Film Festival with the title "Word.Life: The Hip-Hop Project," the film won audience awards at the Urbanworld Vibe Film Festival and Zurich Film Festival as well as the best docu award at the Harlem International Film Festival.

The film was produced by Scott K. Rosenberg and co-produced by Michelle McElroy and Elsie Choi.

The deal was negotiated by ThinkFilm vp acquisitions Daniel Katz and vp business and legal affairs Richard Rapkowski with Joseph Dapello from Schreck, Rose, Dapello & Adams Llp. on behalf of the filmmakers.