|Films featured in this spotlight include:
- Live at CBGB (1982): On Christmas Eve 1982, Bad Brains began a three-day stint at a hardcore festival hosted by the legendary CBGB. The very best of these shows was culled from over four hours of footage. Though their live performances were legendary, their visual recordings were impossible to find. These powerful performances are revisited here in extraordinary fashion.
- Smithereens (1982): A restless and abrasive young woman eschews the affections of a sensitive young portrait artist, preferring to chase singers in a misguided desire for fame and fortune in New York’s Greenwich Village. Featuring a soundtrack by New Wave icons the Feelies, Susan Seidelman’s first feature film is a classic look at the 1980s New York punk scene.
- Hey! Is Dee Dee Home?: Lech Kowalski’s documentary feature is about the life and times of Ramones bassist and all-star burn out, Dee Dee Ramone (1952-2002). Dee Dee’s life is a fascinating character study of a punk rock legend who never grew up. Listen to Dee Dee’s account with director Lech Kowalski, to discuss Johnny Thunders for the film BORN TO LOSE. Relive the battlefield history of rock and roll through the memories of this ordinary, yet extraordinary guy from Queens whose songs distilled frustration, humor and pleasure, into the energetic melodies that made the Ramones a worldwide influence!
- Punk’s Not Dead (2007): PUNK’S NOT DEAD is more than just a tribute documentary. It takes you on an era-by-era journey that puts punk rock’s non-conformist reputation under the knife. Officially sanctioned by the bands in the film who donated personal photos, fliers and home videos, PUNK’S NOT DEAD follows the evolution of punk music from its anarchic roots, to its use as a corporate marketing tool and acceptance into popular culture, to its reinvention in today’s underground scene. It features such bands as The Adicts, Bad Religion, Black Flag, The Damned, The God Awfuls, Good Charlotte, Green Day, Minor Threat, NOFX, The Offspring, Pennywise, The Ramones, Rancid, Social Distortion, Stiff Little Fingers, The Subhumans, Sum 41, UK Subs, The Used and many, many more. Director Susan Dynner’s first-hand experience of Washington DC’s punk scene in the Eighties and her continued love of punk music spurred the making of this self-financed, independent documentary true to the D.I.Y. spirit of punk culture. PUNK’S NOT DEAD combines intelligent, insightful commentary with live performances, behind-the-scenes anecdotes and a killer soundtrack.
- Blank Generation (1980): A classic punk rock movie from 1980 starring Richard Hell, illustrating the end of the first wave of New York City punk rock better than any documentary. Nada (Carole Bouquet), a beautiful French journalist on assignment in New York, records the life and work of an up and coming punk rock star, Billy (Richard Hell). Soon she enters into a volatile relationship with him and must decide whether to continue with it, or return to her lover, a fellow journalist trying to track down the elusive Andy Warhol (playing himself). This long-lost film is like a time capsule from pre-Disneyification New York City: sleazy, dirty and most importantly, real.
- A Band Called Death (2012): Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early ’70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hopes of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death’s music, and band name, too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, A BAND CALLED DEATH chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossibly ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell…the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers.
- Who Took the Bomp? (2010): WHO TOOK THE BOMP? LE TIGRE ON TOUR follows iconic feminist electronic band Le Tigre on their 2004 to 2005 international tour across four continents and through ten countries. Supported by a community of devoted fans and led by outspoken Riot Grrrl pioneer Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill), Le Tigre confronts sexism and homophobia in the music industry while tearing up the stage via performance art poetics, no-holds-barred lyrics, punk rock ethos and whip-smart wit in this edgy and entertaining documentary. Directed by Kerthy Fix (STRANGE POWERS: STEPHIN MERRITT AND THE MAGNETIC FIELDS), WHO TOOK THE BOMP? LE TIGRE ON TOUR features never before seen live performances, archival interviews and revealing backstage footage with these trail-blazing artists.
- X: The Unheard Music (1985): The iconic L.A. band X changed the face of punk music with their vibrant, original style. We see the band at its peak in this legendary film, which took five years to make. As vital today as the day it was released twenty-five years ago, X: THE UNHEARD MUSIC, preserved by the Sundance Collection as a “seminal independent film,” provides an indelible record of underground America in the Age of Reagan. This innovative and unconventional film puts us inside the world of X using a striking, visionary style reflecting the uncompromising passion and raw energy of their music. Includes seventeen X classics from their critically hailed first four albums: “Los Angeles,” “Wild Gift,” “Under the Big Black Sun” and “More Fun in the New World.”
- Pig Death Machine (2013) : After eating rotten meat, a brainless brunette is transformed into a dangerous genius, while in a Doctor Doolittle twist, a misanthropic-punk-rock-botanist-babe gains the power to “talk to plants.” Dreams become nightmares as they choke on the sweet nectar of envy and desire.
- Patti Smith: Dream of Life (2008): Eleven years in the making, PATTI SMITH: DREAM OF LIFE is a unique and intimate portrait of the renowned singer, songwriter, poet, and activist. Patti Smith’s music, poetry, and politics are fearless, funny, raw and original. Photographer-director Steven Sebring creates a beautiful collage of images, memories and performances illuminating the complexities and capturing the essence of this distinctive, legendary icon. The film traces Patti Smith’s punk-poet roots through the trials of daily life and untimely deaths that have formed her life and art. Smith narrates the film touching on her early days in New York City, the people dearest to her (late husband Fred “Sonic” Smith, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Mapplethorpe, and others), her family, and the political causes she champions. Through beautiful cinematography (both black & white and color), Sebring captures the essential nature of this vital and relevant American artist.
- Desperate Teenage Lovedolls (1984): DESPERATE TEENAGE LOVEDOLLS chronicles the rise and fall of Bunny, Kitty, and Patch (Hilary Rubens, Jennifer Schwartz, and Janet Housden), three teenage runaways who form an all-girl rock group, The Lovedolls. Their rise to fame from a nowhere, drug-filled street life, is overnight thanks to the sleazy manager, Johnny Tremaine (Steve McDonald). The Dolls unfortunately cross paths with the bad-ass all girl gang the She Devils, lead by the super-cool Tanya Hearst (Tracy Lea), who do their best to curdle the Lovedolls rockin’ reign. Co-starring Jeff McDonald, Jordan Schwartz, & Dez Cadena, with a classic soundtrack by Redd Kross, Black Flag, & the Nip Drivers.
- You Weren’t There (2007): YOU WEREN’T THERE: A HISTORY OF CHICAGO PUNK 1977-1984 looks back on the impact that the Punk movement had on the Windy City. Though overlooked in the annals of Rock history when compared to media-centric Los Angeles, New York and London, Chicago served as an important early supporter of this burgeoning and controversial scene. From what is now considered to be the first Punk dance club in America (La Mere Vipere), to proto-hardcore clubs (Oz, O’Banions) and All Ages DIY scene (Centro-Am Hall), Chicagoans made sure that there were outlets for the genre that was often blacklisted by the mainstream local live music scene. This small, but dedicated scene had to endure harassment from the Police, City Hall, Neo-Nazis and even the audience, as well as making uneasy alliances with the ever-present Chicago criminal underworld. It was a scene that could be violent and unsavory at times, but always tempered with large doses of humor, art and intelligence. YOU WEREN’T THERE talks to the DJ’s, musicians, promoters, artists and fans who were pivotal in creating the Chicago Punk scene. The film also features classic archival footage of such great Chicago bands as Naked Raygun, the Effigies, Strike Under, Big Black and Articles of Faith, as well as lesser known greats Silver Abuse, the Mentally Ill, the Subverts, Negative Element and many more. This is a rare glimpse into a truly one-of-a-kind American underground music scene.
- Meditate and Destroy (2007): MEDITATE AND DESTROY profiles the persona who quite possibly represents America’s most unexpected Buddhist: former punk rocker and juvenile delinquent Noah Levine, bestselling author of the book “Dharma Punx.” As a teenager, Levine was mired in an abyss of violence, drug and alcohol abuse and criminal detention. When he hit bottom, attempting suicide in juvenile jail in the late 1980s, Levine received a phone call from his father who instructed him how to take baby steps toward initiating meditation practice. Knowing that he either needed to die or to change, Levine tested meditation and felt a glimmer of freedom from his intense suffering. Today, Levine is a respected teacher and figure in what is perhaps the most unconventional Buddhist community in the country: the “Dpunx Nation.” Staking claim to his egalitarian urban vision, Levine states that “Buddhism is not just for hippies anymore” as he reaches out to a new generation of youths who are turning to meditation as they seek a departure from their lives of drugs, violence and crime. In major cities throughout America, these unlikely Buddhists find comfort and affinity in Levine’s approach. Today, New York, Hollywood, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, Boulder, Portland and Washington, D.C., all host regular Dharma Punx-inspired meditation groups that allow punks to develop their own awareness on a deep level while retaining their edge and individuality.
- Alan Vega: Just a Million Dreams (2013): This intimate portrait will reveal uncommon stories of groundbreaking visual artist and pioneer of minimalist electronic rock, Alan Vega, vocalist and composer for 1970s and 80s punk/post punk duo Suicide. Alan plays with the camera and enjoys the friendship of filmmaker Losier, while also loving, fighting and living with his family (Liz Lamere, his wife and collaborator, and their son Dante, young replica of Alan). Traces of joy, eccentricity, illumination but also deep fatigue and slow Suicide. The rock-n-roll Alan is still very alive, funny and rebellious.
- Rage (2001): RAGE depicts the hope, anger and aggression of the early west coast punk rock scene. Punk was in its infancy in the late 1970’s. It was shapeless, gritty, honest and dishonest. It could be morphed into anything the imagination could conceive. The film relates how the punk scene originated through the eyes of Jack Grisham (TSOL), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Keith Morris (Circle Jerks), Gitane Demone (Christian Death), Duane Peters (US Bombs), and Don Bolles (The Germs).
- Everyday Sunshine (2011): From the shifting faultlines of Hollywood fantasies and the economic and racial tensions of Ronald Reagan’s America, Fishbone rose to become one of the most original bands of the last twenty-five years. With a blistering combination of punk and funk they demolished the walls of genre and challenged the racial stereotypes and political order of the music industry and the nation. Telling it like it is, the iconic Laurence Fishburne narrates EVERYDAY SUNSHINE, a story about music, history, fear, courage and funking on the one. At the heart of the film’s story is lead singer Angelo Moore and bassist Norwood Fisher who show how they keep the band rolling out of pride, desperation and love for their art. To overcome money woes, family strife and the strain of being aging punk rockers on the road, Norwood and Angelo are challenged to re-invent themselves in the face of dysfunction and ghosts from a painful past. Featuring interviews with Flea, Gwen Stefani, Ice-T, Perry Farrell, Branford Marsalis, George Clinton, Tim Robbins, Gogol Bordello, Questlove and others, EVERYDAY SUNSHINE traces the band’s history, influence and struggle as individualistic, genre-blending artists up against an unforgiving music industry that threatens to pass them by.
- Punk Vacation (1987): A peaceful California town is shaken after the brutal murder of a diner owner by a gang of vicious punks. When the daughter of the slain man attempts to avenge her father’s death, she’s held hostage by the gang resulting in an epic battle between punks and rednecks.