Poetry Slam Documentary “Don’t Be Nice”

To World Premiere at East End Film Festival


First Film from Bowery Poetry Studios

Spotlights NYC Team at National Competition


Feature Documentary Debut from Director Max Powers

Explores Poetry as response to critical events in America today

New York, New York and London, UK – 16/04/18


The poetry slam documentary “Don’t Be Nice” will world premiere on the 20th of April, 2018 at 8.50 pm at the East End Film Festival at Rich Mix (35-47 Bethnal Green, London E1 6LA, UK). The first feature documentary from Bowery Poetry Studios spotlights New York City’s Bowery Slam poetry team as they prepare for a national competition during the summer of 2016. This feature documentary debut from director Max Powers explores poetry as a response to critical events in America today, such as the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.


“Bowery Poetry Club popularized the slam poetry form, and with the creation of Bowery Slam we saw a new generation of poets that had a radical message for the world, so we felt it was time for slam to transcend the bars, clubs and cafes and move into the larger world,” says the film’s producer Nikhil Melnechuk, who is also Bowery Poetry’s executive director.


“Don’t Be Nice” is the Bowery Slam team’s credo and call to action. For coach Lauren Whitehead, to “be nice” means to stay on the surface of things and conform to societal expectations. She pushes the team to dig deep and challenge the status quo in their poems, even if that risks the team losing the title. The film grants audiences rare and intimate access to the poetic process of five young New York artists, transporting viewers behind the scenes and onto the stages of this fiery, visceral art form.


“As filmmakers, our team had to use visual tools to convey the power, vulnerability, and urgency of the poets’ words,” says director Max Powers. “The film attempts to show how the intense creative process uncovers universal truths about the human condition, while asking the question: what can art do in the face of insurmountable real-world obstacles?”


Don’t Be Nice is a production of Bowery Poetry Studios and the Radio Drama Network, in association with the Emmy Award-winning Flatbush Pictures, HOWL! Arts, and Ideal Glass.




About Bowery Poetry Studios

Bowery Poetry Studios is the film arm of Bowery Arts+Science, a 501(c)3 non-profit that operates New York City’s historic Bowery Poetry Club. Founded by Bob Holman in 2002 and now run by Nikhil Melnechuk, Bowery Arts+Science’s mission is to discover and support emerging poets and artists, and to develop new poetic forms to promote the arts as a changemaking force in society.