Louder Than A Bomb (2011)

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Louder Than a Bomb tells the story of four Chicago high school poetry teams as they prepare to compete in the world's largest youth slam. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the film captures the turbulent lives of these unforgettable kids, exploring the ways writing shapes their world, and vice versa. Louder Than a Bomb is not about "high school poetry" as we often think of it. It's about language as a joyful release, irrepressibly talented teenagers obsessed with making words dance. While the topics they tackle are often deeply personal, what they put into their poems-and what they get out of them-is universal: the defining work of finding one's voice. -- (C) Official Site
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Documentary , Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
 limited
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

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Cast

John Hood
as Coaches
James Sloan
as Coaches
Nova Venerable
as OPRF Slam Team
Rocco Bulmer
as OPRF Slam Team
Alicia Davis
as OPRF Slam Team
Keenan Smith
as OPRF Slam Team
Tabitha Watson
as OPRF Slam Team
Peter Kahn
as Coach
Adam Gottlieb
as Northside Slam Team
Amaya Dimyen
as Northside Slam Team
Elisha Miles
as Northside Slam Team
Jessie Welch
as Northside Slam Team
Nate Marshall
as Whitney Young Slam Team
Hannah Bernard
as Whitney Young Slam Team
Gabriella Bonamici
as Whitney Young Slam Team
Will Grucza
as Whitney Young Slam Team
Diana Rosen
as Whitney Young Slam Team
Jamal Sadrud-Din
as Whitney Young Slam Team
Jonathan "Freaky" Carillo
as The Steinmenauts
Kevin "KVO" Harris
as The Steinmenauts
Lauren Iron
as The Steinmenauts
Jesus "L3" Lark
as The Steinmenauts
Lamar "Tha Truth" Jorden
as The Steinmenauts
She'Kira McKnight
as The Steinmenauts
Charles "Big C" Smith
as The Steinmenauts
Travell Williams
as The Steinmenauts
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News & Interviews for Louder Than A Bomb

Critic Reviews for Louder Than A Bomb

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (11)

"Louder Than a Bomb" has a lot in common with such documentaries as "Spellbound" and "Mad Hot Ballroom": charismatic, if obsessed, kids and nail-biting suspense.

Full Review… | June 9, 2011
Washington Post
Top Critic

Think of it as "Glee'' without music. Without a net, too.

Full Review… | June 3, 2011
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Having a bad day? Then get yourself to Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel's life-affirming documentary, immediately.

Full Review… | May 19, 2011
New York Daily News
Top Critic

It should hit home with anyone whose experience of adolescence involved creativity, intellectual exploration, and getting to know and love people outside their immediate social circles.

Full Review… | May 19, 2011
AV Club
Top Critic

The sheer breadth of talent is so astonishing, and the rhymes so clearly from the heart, that our spirits are inevitably lifted.

Full Review… | May 17, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

Who says poetry has to be dull?

Full Review… | May 17, 2011
New York Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Louder Than A Bomb

There are some really fantastic spoken word poems performed, and you learn about some really talented kids in the Chicago high schools. Well made, with lots of energy and passion.

David Jin
David Jin

I have to admit that before seeing Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel's documentary Louder Than a Bomb, I had never given much thought to rap music or to poetry slams. I have dismissed rap music as a musical conduit that celebrates a culture of guns, drugs, lewdness, racism, sexism and swagger. Poetry slams, I have thought even less about. I sort of regarded as something sectioned off into the beatnik coffee houses of Greenwich Village. Louder Than a Bomb had me thinking deeply about the possibilities of both art forms. They can both be used as avenues to address cultural issues and break down stereotypes. If every kid thought as deeply about their lives and their environment as the kids in this movie, we'd be on our way to a better world. A poetry slam, in case you don't know, is a competition in which poets recite poetry as performance, in this case much like rap. A panel of up to five judges give scores based on performance and the content of the material. The scores look very much like you might see in a diving competition. Most of what the contestants convey comes from their charisma, their content and their rhythm. When a contestant is really in the zone, it is a sight to behold. The poetry takes the form of rap without music. A person takes the mike and begins a sort of verbal dance, addressing cultural and personal issues that are important to them. There is a lot of emotion in their performances and many start slow and build to a crescendo that makes your pulse race. The movie is about the 2008 high school poetry slam in Chicago called Louder Than a Bomb. Over 50 high school from all over the Chicago area compete, and the finalists perform in an arena to an enormous crowd. The focus of the film is Steinmetz High School which won the competition in 2007 in a major upset under the direction of the tough-loving Coach Sloan who helps them work their frustration into an artistic expression. The film follows the competitors form Steinmetz and other schools as they work their hearts out trying to get a spot in the competition. Most of the kids performing are from the inner-city, from various high schools in the area. Most are black or Latino and live in rough areas and rough circumstances. The most memorable is Nova Venerable, a strong-willed young girl from Park River Forest High School who helps her mother at home with her younger brother who has a disability. Her writing is a sad allegory of her struggles at home and with her father who is not in the picture. She has the heart of a lion. Also unforgettable (and the one you'll remember) is Adam Gottlieb, a student of Northside College Prep who's round face bears a permanent grin. His spirit at the microphone is breathtaking. There's Lamar, who pours over obsessively over his notebook. In his eyes are a manner of intelligence and poise that might make him a great orator or a civic leader. Then there's my favorite Big C, tall and heavyset who wants to win and doesn't hide his tears or his big heart. Louder Than a Bomb was directed by Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel (nephew of Gene Siskel). Their film had me thinking of how easy it is to turn a negative into a positive. If rap music could turn itself around and address positive issues then it might be used as an invaluable educational tool. If a movie like this could be turned into a reality show for television, I think it would be a brilliant alternative to the negative junk that is being fed to our nation's youth. Just imagine the impact it could have.

Jerry Roberts
Jerry Roberts

I have to admit that before seeing Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel's documentary Louder Than a Bomb, I had never given much thought to rap music or to poetry slams. I have dismissed rap music as a musical conduit that celebrates a culture of guns, drugs, lewdness, racism, sexism and swagger. Poetry slams, I have thought even less about. I sort of regarded as something sectioned off into the beatnik coffee houses of Greenwich Village. Louder Than a Bomb had me thinking deeply about the possibilities of both art forms. They can both be used as avenues to address cultural issues and break down stereotypes. If every kid thought as deeply about their lives and their environment as the kids in this movie, we'd be on our way to a better world. A poetry slam, in case you don't know, is a competition in which poets recite poetry as performance, in this case much like rap. A panel of up to five judges give scores based on performance and the content of the material. The scores look very much like you might see in a diving competition. Most of what the contestants convey comes from their charisma, their content and their rhythm. When a contestant is really in the zone, it is a sight to behold. The poetry takes the form of rap without music. A person takes the mike and begins a sort of verbal dance, addressing cultural and personal issues that are important to them. There is a lot of emotion in their performances and many start slow and build to a crescendo that makes your pulse race. The movie is about the 2008 high school poetry slam in Chicago called Louder Than a Bomb. Over 50 high school from all over the Chicago area compete, and the finalists perform in an arena to an enormous crowd. The focus of the film is Steinmetz High School which won the competition in 2007 in a major upset under the direction of the tough-loving Coach Sloan who helps them work their frustration into an artistic expression. The film follows the competitors form Steinmetz and other schools as they work their hearts out trying to get a spot in the competition. Most of the kids performing are from the inner-city, from various high schools in the area. Most are black or Latino and live in rough areas and rough circumstances. The most memorable is Nova Venerable, a strong-willed young girl from Park River Forest High School who helps her mother at home with her younger brother who has a disability. Her writing is a sad allegory of her struggles at home and with her father who is not in the picture. She has the heart of a lion. Also unforgettable (and the one you'll remember) is Adam Gottlieb, a student of Northside College Prep who's round face bears a permanent grin. His spirit at the microphone is breathtaking. There's Lamar, who pours over obsessively over his notebook. In his eyes are a manner of intelligence and poise that might make him a great orator or a civic leader. Then there's my favorite Big C, tall and heavyset who wants to win and doesn't hide his tears or his big heart. Louder Than a Bomb was directed by Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel (nephew of Gene Siskel). Their film had me thinking of how easy it is to turn a negative into a positive. If rap music could turn itself around and address positive issues then it might be used as an invaluable educational tool. If a movie like this could be turned into a reality show for television, I think it would be a brilliant alternative to the negative junk that is being fed to our nation's youth. Just imagine the impact it could have.

Jerry Roberts
Jerry Roberts

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