August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Slam

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Sonja Sohn, Saul Williams
genre
Drama

STARRING Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn, Bonz Malone, Beau Sia

DIRECTED BY Marc Levin

At Sundance this year, Levin’s gritty drama not only won the Grand Jury Prize and made audiences break into applause during the film, it also made poetry seem cool. The inner-city vérité about an African-American man (Williams) who’s jailed on drug charges and proceeds to free his mind through the spoken word had the odds stacked against it. Made in two-and-a-half weeks (for $1 million) and shot on location in a Washington, D.C., jail (featuring appearances by real-life inmates and officers), Slam rode its crowd-pleasing buzz to a $2.5 million sale to Trimark. Says Williams, ”I think of the film as more of a movement than a movie.” (Oct. 16)

THE LOWDOWN How do you market a movement? The soundtrack, featuring Busta Rhymes, Pras, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and Coolio, among others, should help.

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