5 Sides of a Coin

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5 Sides of a Coin is a 2004 feature-length documentary by Canadian filmmaker Paul Kell about hip hop culture. The title references the five elements inherent to this culture, viz., emceeing, deejaying, b-boying (aka breakdancing), writing (i.e., graffiti or street art), and beatboxing, to each of which it devotes a chapter



Prior to studying filmmaking, director Paul Kell hosted a hip hop radio program on CFCR-FM 90.5 in Saskatoon, Canada. Many of the contacts he would later use to help him with 5 Sides were established in his days as a radio host/deejay.

Critical reception

5 Sides of a Coin made its Canadian debut at the Montreal World Film Festival and received its first review in the Montreal Gazette by reporter John Griffin. "Five Sides is a 70-minute digital video documentary meticulously shot in the layered vernacular of the art form, but faithful to the tenets of the genre." Making its international premiere at the AFI Film Festival, 5 Sides was given glowing reviews by Variety and Film Threat. Ken Eisner of Variety wrote "A thorough overview of hip-hop's origins and influences. Nifty, well-executed docu emphasizes music's creative, bohemian side, skipping more commercial excesses that have come in the era of 50 Cent and other materialistic rappers. Great looking pic is divided into chapters detailing major touchstones, like Gil Scott-Heron and other spoken-word mavens, and innovators like Cowboy, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa. Non-narrated effort is told playfully by articulate participants (like Jeru and DJ Spooky) and supported by a smattering of archival material, all held together with appropriately colorful visual effects."[1] Eric Campos of Film Threat gave 5 Sides four stars and wrote "Five Sides of a Coin contains absolutely no artificial sweeteners or preservatives -- no commercial hogwash. This is the real shit."

Both Annette Kellerman of Ain't It Cool News and A.O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film positive reviews.


5 Sides of a Coin is distributed by Los Angeles-based, multiple Academy Award Nominee 7th Art Releasing.[2] The DVD of 5 Sides was distributed by Lakeshore Entertainment but is currently out of print.

5 Sides is available for download at the iTunes store