Friday, May 29, 2015

Style Wars (1983) — Original Graffiti Documentary

The Original Style Wars

Directed by Tony Silver and produced by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant, it was awarded the Grand Prize for Documentaries at the 1983 Sundance Film Festival. STYLE WARS is regarded as the indispensable document of New York Street culture of the early ’80s, the filmic record of a golden age of youthful creativity that exploded into the world from a city in crisis.

STYLE WARS captured the look and feel of New York’s ramshackle subway system as graffiti writers’ public playground, battleground and spectacular artistic canvas. Opposing them by every means possible were Mayor Edward Koch, the police, and the New York Transit Authority. Meanwhile MCs, DJs and B-boys rocked the city with new sounds and new moves and street corner breakdance battles evolved into performance art.

New York’s legendary kings of graffiti and b-boys own a special place in the hip hop pantheon. STYLE WARS has become an emblem of the original, embracing spirit of hip hop as it reached out across the world from underground tunnels, uptown streets, clubs and playgrounds.

"A breakthrough documentary." A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“The best hip hop film ever made. Reveals hip hop in its purest state, capturing it before it was part of pop culture and a source of revenue for major corporate entities. The film shows the innocence of these young innovators who are considered forefathers of a movement bigger than they could have ever imagined. A superb job of showing the bond between the different elements, displaying how the art, music and dance are interchangeable and maintain a close symbiotic relationship.”Insomniac DVD Highlights

"The Holy Grail of hip-hop movies."XLR8R

“Hip hop’s Rosetta Stone.” VIBE

Style Wars (1983) - the critically-acclaimed cult classic was originally broadcasted on PBS and
won the grand prize for documentaries at the 1984 Sundance Film Festival

Henry Chalfant – Producer

Starting out as a sculptor in New York in the 1970s, Henry Chalfant turned to photography and film to do an in-depth study of hip-hop culture and graffiti art. He became one of the foremost authorities on New York subway art and other aspects of urban youth culture. His photographs record hundreds of ephemeral art works that have long since vanished.

To Chalfant’s credit are three of the most influential documentations of aerosol art. He co-authored the book Subway Art (1984) with Martha Cooper and he co-produced the film Style Wars (1983) with the film’s director Tony Silver.

In 1987 Chalfant co-authored the book Spraycan Art with James Prigoff, documenting the global expansion of graffiti. Each one of these documentary efforts have been embraced by the international graffiti community and they have served as cultural blueprints for graffiti art movements around the world. Chalfant also directed with Rita Fecher a documentary on South Bronx gangs, Flyin’ Cut Sleeves (1994) and he directed From Mambo to Hip Hop (2006) portraying two generations of Latino youth growing up in the South Bronx.

Tony Silver – Director / Producer (April 15th, 1935 – February 1st, 2008)

Tony Silver was a native of New York City, where he attended Columbia University and briefly pursued an acting career, before becoming the leading independent maker of movie trailers on the east coast. He began making his own films in 1970.

Following Style Wars, he directed and produced a feature documentary, Arisman Facing The Audience, tracing the artistic and spiritual journeys from Manhattan to Guangzhou, China of Marshall Arisman, master painter, teacher, and storyteller, Marshall Arisman. Admired worldwide for uncompromising images of worldly violence and terror Arisman is seen as “an enchanter, a shaman,” perceived as a painter of “serial killer syndrome,” and the possessor of knowledge about the afterlife, that, says a colleague, he “won’t tell us [about it], he’s so fucking perverse.”

Silver’s public television film Anita Ellis, For The Record documents a rare recording session by the legendary jazz-pop singer with the pianist Ellis Larkins. Broadcast on PBS and in England, Germany and Scandinavia. Silver’s first film, The Miss Nude America Movie (1970), documents the strange journey of a wheelchair-bound boy, founder of Naked City, Indiana. The film was shown at the New York Film Festival.

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