Those looking for a little rowdy cinema to warm up those dreary final months of the season should look no further than Growler Distro's Mid-Winter Punk Film Festival, which features only the most hard-core selection of underground punk-rock movies of the '70s and '80s through today. The series is a must-see for any safety-pinned cinemaniac.
"I've started carrying DVDs, and I've always wanted the place to be more than the distro," says Molly Zackary, owner of Growler Record Distro. "I wanted it to be a community space." Zackary is presenting the films along with Yellow Feather Coffee and Titwrench director Sarah Slater. "She's worked for the Starz Film Festival for a long time," notes Zackary. "She's such a film buff."
The festival kicks off Saturday, February 4, with The Day the Country Died, a DIY doc chronicling the rise of the early-'80s U.K. punk scene and featuring interviews with the Subhumans, Crass and Oi Polloi. "I'm pretty into peace punk" says Zackary, "early-'80s U.K. peace punk."
The following Saturday, February 11, brings Downtown 81, a gritty look at the New York art-rock scene. Following a then-unknown nineteen-year-old painter named Jean Michel Basquiat, the film shows the trials and triumphs of a young artist living in the gutter beauty of pre-Giuliani Manhattan, complete with performances by Kid Creole & the Coconuts and cameos by Fab Five Freddy and Debbie Harry.
On Saturday, February 18, obscure Florida doom/metal band Floo, will be on display in a documentary of the same name. On Saturday, February 25, the issue of race in a predominantly white music scene will be discussed in Afro-Punk, which features performances by Bad Brains and interviews with members of the Dead Kennedys and TV on The Radio. This 66-minute award-winning documentary takes a refreshing look at a subject often ignored in rock history.
The series continues in March with Kill All Red Neck Pricks -- the long-form namesake of the '90s post-hardcore band featured, Karp -- on Saturday, March 3, followed by a screening of Smithereens. "You know how you're a kid and you're like, 'Let's see all the punk films,' so you see Suburbia and, of course, Smithereens," Zackary declares. While not everybody grew up on VHS copies of punk films (some of us were busy with Star Wars), any young punks looking to see Smithereens, will have a chance on Saturday, March 10.
It's a historical-fiction tale of a cynical Jersey girl attempting to break into the New York punk scene, only to find that it's moved to L.A. This punk-rock odyssey chronicles the dark hangover of the CBGB scene and the dizzying frustrations of being young in the city. "It's the same director that made Desperately Seeking Susan," Zackary notes.
On Saturday, March 17, From the Back of the Room focuses on another segment of the punk community that deserves a great deal of respect and attention: women. This exhilarating documentary premiered only last summer and includes an interview with Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre.
The Mid-Winter Punk Film Fest concludes on Saturday, March 31, with Born in Flames, a 1983 documentary-style science-fiction film directed by feminist Lizzie Borden. The flick presents a bleak world of sexism and government oppression, two elements that are challenged by a group of hard-core renegade females armed with a pirate radio station.
"It's winter, and the sun is going down at 6 p.m.," says Zackary. "Everyone is stuck inside. Lets take advantage of it being dark so early. If it goes well and people are enthusiastic, we'll have more film events in the future. Maybe next fall."
Each screening begins at 6 p.m. at 742 Santa Fe Drive. Donations of a buck will be requested at the door. Short films will precede each feature, and Zackary will be serving popcorn and snacks. And Yellow Feather will be open for the first hour, serving hot cocoa and cookies. Visit Growler Distro for more details.
*Correction: An earlier version of this post listed the festival kick off date as 2/2.
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