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BIGGIE AND TUPAC

SYNOPSIS:
Documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield investigates the still unsolved murders of rap music stars Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. In September 1996 Shakur was shot and fatally wounded in Las Vegas on the day of the Mike Tyson/Bruce Seldon boxing match. Six months later Biggie Smalls was shot dead at a music industry party in Los Angeles. Their respective murders were initially explained as the end result of a friendship that had turned into deadly rivalry, with Smalls arranging Shakur's death before falling victim to revenge from the Shakur camp. Broomfield's interviews with those connected to both artists uncovers startling new evidence that strongly suggests blame lies elsewhere.


Review by Richard Kuipers:
Whether or not you approve of all his methods you have to give Nick Broomfield credit for guts. Even when his camera operator quits out of fear for her life, Broomfield hires a replacement (who can barely shoot straight out of sheer terror) and marches into a maximum security prison to interview record company boss Suge Knight, whom evidence suggests knows a lot more about the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls than he's letting on.

The evidence leading to Knight is not on any police or FBI file - it's gathered by Broomfield himself during his investigation of a case that exhibits every sign of having been covered up at official levels. Broomfield's camera operators aren't the only ones who are scared; the reticence of many potential interview subjects might have scuttled the project mid-stream but Broomfield finds an ace in the form of Biggie Small's mother, Miss Voletta Wallace. Suddenly doors open and associates of Small come forward with damning evidence of a well-organised conspiracy to discredit the rap music scene by assassinating two of its leading lights.

Even in death a boy's best friend is his mother and it's Ms Wallace's connections that end up saving Broomfield from failing as a filmmaker and probably from physical harm as well. You couldn't script anything more vivid and compelling than what's revealed by the heavy hitters and frightened bit players in this fascinating account of how an association of record company executives, off-duty cops, FBI agents, colour gang members and notorious criminals twice got away with murder.

It's clear just about everyone who talks here fears for their life but is compelled at the same time to let the truth (or their version of it) be told. Some of Broomfield's narration is a little annoying - he still believes in what was called 'new journalism' thirty years ago and includes himself in the story too much - but what he discovers is amazing. Like Errol Morris' 1988 classic The Thin Blue Line, Broomfield's documentary also has the excitement of a real-life crime being solved (or at least busted wide open) before your very eyes. No interest or knowledge of rap music is required. This is compelling stuff and a major recovery for Broomfield after the dismal Kurt and Courtney.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

BIGGIE AND TUPAC (M)
(US)

CAST: Documentary featuring the Notorious B.I.G.(archive footage), Tupac Shakur (archive footage), Nick Broomfield, Russell Poole, David Hicken, Billy Garland, Voletta Wallace

PRODUCER: Michele d'Acosta

DIRECTOR: Nick Broomfield

SCRIPT: n/a

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Joan Churchill

EDITOR: Mark Atkins, Jaime Estrada Torres

MUSIC: Christian Henson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Imagine Entertainment

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 6, 2003 in Sydney & Melbourne; other states to follow.







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