The new documentary Don’t Be Nice, from director Max Powers, follows the five African-American, Afro-Hispanic, and queer poets who comprise the Bowery Slam Poetry Team.
The title hails from their coach Lauren Whitehead’s ethos of pushing past personal boundaries and to stop “[being] nice.” To “be nice” means to avoid deeper exploration of issues facing people of color and queer people.
In a statement, Powers said of the documentary:
"My goal has been to illuminate these poets’ words with as little obstruction as possible, bringing the revolutionary work they’ve done in expanding Slam Poetry to a wider movie-going audience. Where many succumb to the polarizing simplifications of click-bait headlines, these poets do difficult personal work to come to an understanding of their relationship to race and power, and courageously share it."
Don’t Be Nice opens at the IFC Center in New York City on September 20 and at the Laemmle Glendale in Los Angeles on September 27, with a wider roll-out to follow.
In the exclusive clip below, poet Timothy DuWhite delivers an incendiary performance excavating the intersections of being black, queer, and otherized.