Directed by Yousseff Delara and Michael D. Olmos
Directed in a way that will catch the attention of a broad range of viewers, Filly Brown succeeds, as an independent film that I imagine could become a main stream hit. In this film “Majo” aka Filly Brown, is an up and coming rap artist with talent that stems from her heart. Majo’s mother is a drug addict who continues getting in trouble even while in jail, slowly pulling Majo into her mess. As Majo catches the attention of a big time producer, she makes the decision to sell out on her friends in order to make enough money to pay her mother’s drug debt. Majo quickly runs into trouble as she makes it to the mainstream rap market. By the end we discover that there is nothing more important than friends and family, but this lesson is learned over a long and rocky journey. It is only when Majo digs deep into her heart to create music that reflects her true feelings, that she becomes successful in controlling her professional and personal life
I would rate this film a 6.5 on the independent scale. The story of a rapper making their way into the industry has never been presented like this before. For one thing, the rapper is a Latina female, contradicting many stereotypes about who we believe can become successful rappers. Another interesting aspect was that Majo’s mother was in jail rather than her father. In fact, Majo’s dad was a reformed gangster, and did everything he could to take care of his daughters. It seemed like this film stood apart from many gender and racial stereotypes that are typically presented in films.
Another aspect of the film that reflected its independent nature was the music included throughout the film. Of course, Filly Brown’s raps were unique. What was even better about these songs was that they were actually sung live by the actress as the film was shot. In addition to Filly’s rap songs, different genres of unique and popular music were included. “Dubstep”, an increasingly popular form of music in the underground was played in this film, demonstrating how the filmmakers were in touch with modern culture. These small details were what made this film such a unique experience.
I found the end of the film to be somewhat mainstream in the sense that it was a “happyish” ending. Majo never gives up on her mother and her entire family gets back in touch with the mom. The mom finally attempts to take steps to get off of drugs and while Majo visits her mom at the jail, she raps an emotional song about her family over the prison phone. Although the ending was a little bit corny, the Q and A afterwards was very touching. The actress who played Majo was cute and quirky, but I could tell she put her heart and soul into this role. Seeing the passion of those involved in making this film made me appreciate it even more.