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Filmfest DC’s “Arabian Sights” festival, which kicks off tonight with 33 Days, continues through the weekend at Goethe-Institut Washington and the E Street Cinema. Closing out the Sunday schedule is Slingshot Hip-Hop, a documentary about Palestinian rappers. Jackie Shalloum spends time with a host of MCs but mainly centers on DAM, a trio living and performing in the Israeli city of Lod. Their perspective on the genre is woefully out of date by American standards, which is partly a function of how hard it is to get access to the music. (One rapper describes being thrilled at finally getting hold of an Eminem cassette from Canada.) But it’s hard not to be drawn in by DAM’s connection of Tupac’s “Holla if Ya Hear Me” and the second Intafada, and the excitement of Shalloum’s film is in watching a scene build itself from the ground up. There are more than a few headaches involved on that front—-power outages, absurdly long waits at checkpoints, sexism, and racism, for starters. The fellow-feeling between DAM and an upstart trio from Gaza, PR, is so strong and inspiring that you can easily ignore the pride with which one member sports his Troy Aikman jersey.
Shalloum, DAM, and female Palestinian MC Abeer will attend the screening on Sunday, Oct. 26, at 5 p.m. at E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW, followed by a performance by DAM at the Hard Rock Cafe, 999 E St. NW. Tickets are $15 for the film and concert, $10 for the concert only.