Screened as part of NZIFF 2002

Breath Control: The History of the Human Beat Box 2001

Directed by Joey Garfield

USA In English
73 minutes Beta-SP

Director, Photography


Joey Garfield
Jacob Craycroft
Zachary Mortensen


Jacob Craycroft


Ted Ganon


Kimson Albert


The Fat Boys
Doug E. Fresh
Biz Markie
Click Tha Supah Latin
Zap Mama
The Godfather of Noyze


"Breath Control is a lively documentary on beat boxing, a form of music defined by one practitioner as ‘the art of using your mouth to generate sounds that are usually made by machines’. Inventive edit mixes performance clips, music videos, jazzy cartoons, snappy rapping heads and mock-scientific anatomical diagrams to concoct a picture that’s got a good sense of humor and great rhythm. The picture presents a positive, viewer- and artist-friendly history of one of the funkier aspects of hip-hop.

More than 30 casually interviewed beat boxers discuss their art and sometimes interact musically in service to director Joey Garfield’s deftly intercut musical history lesson-cum-jam session. The vocal musicians eulogize the gentle giant of their art, Buff, of the Fat Boys (seen on TV treating a startled Regis Philbin to an impromptu percussive riff) and ponder the usually divisive question of who did what first, and Zap Mama expounds on the primacy of oral traditions in Africa while enthusiastically imitating all the animals of the jungle in colorful syncopation. 

Everybody exudes a kind of mellow zeal: whether lounging in a studio, posed against the pond in Central Park or sitting in a barber chair getting a head shave, the artists discuss the 15-year evolution of their craft with passionate attention to detail. And it doesn’t hurt that they can so effortlessly demonstrate their points with amazing vocal sound effects that uncannily mimic everything from a full set of snares to the multiple levels of an effects-heavy computer game." — Ronnie Scheib, Variety