This documentary follows a group of senior citizens from New Zealand, some with limited mobility, who form a hip hop dance troupe called “Hip Op-eration” and take their show on the road to the World Hip Hop Championships in Las Vegas. Along the way they receive warm support from young Polynesian and Maori rappers and breakers.
How important was the goal of getting to the competition in Las Vegas?
The journey to Las Vegas to perform at the World Hip Hop Championships was clearly an extraordinary goal for this group of seniors — our ‘raison d’etre’ if you would for approaching the NZ Film Commission for funding.
But from the start Director Bryn Evans and myself aimed for a character-driven narrative that celebrated and explored some of the issues of aging from a distinctly Kiwi perspective.
However it would be fair to say that had the group not made it to Las Vegas it would have been a different and more localized film.
Hip Hoperation uses local music and dance talent to prime the members of the group for their adventure. In what ways do these local performers reflect the reality of New Zealand today?
New Zealand has an enormous hip hop culture and, in dance, it extends to mainstream and traditional dance studios that are now incorporating it into their routine.
Documentary films often contain moments of unexpected clarity. Is there a scene or sequence in your film that came as a surprise and that stands for something important about the whole experience?
The scene in which the senior hip hop group meets the young Polynesian and Maori hip hoppers was a revelation. The elderly group was apprehensive. They were right out of their social and geographical comfort zone.
It was a tear-jerking moment to watch those young people embrace the elderly with such generosity and humanity — a true demonstration of the enormous power of music and dance to cross cultures and generations and to change perceptions forever.