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Thursday, October 18

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(1979, Gary Weis) Made for NBC, this cult pre-hip hop S. Bronx gangs doc by Gary Weis, director of The Rutles, numerous ’70s & ’80s SNL shorts, videos (Bangles’ “Walk Like An Egyptian”), was shot on 35 (yes, 35!) by documentary DP Joan Churchill and is an incisive portrait of the last two surviving Bronx gangs, the menacing hippied Savage Nomads and the panzer helmeted (and sartorially superior) Savage Skulls. Fine interviews with a prosaic ex-club owner called “Heavy” in a turquoise silk button-down while petting his python, two gang members negotiating when they’ll have their fight (“In two weeks, not this Friday, but next Friday”), a cigar toting community figure called Father Gigante, reenactments of various petty crimes, a gang member named “Fly” claiming that “pretty soon they’re gonna steal the damn atom bomb,” and an unforgettable Chic-blaring block party broken up by numerous fights and ending with a girl getting black eye. Digital. Approx. 67 min.

(1993, Henry Chalfant & Rita Fecher) A gritty portrait of South Bronx gangs shot over three decades from the late 60s to the 90s, shows a far different northern borough then now. With archival footage shot in primitive monochromatic video giving a voice to gang members and leaders (including interviews with Black Benji from the Savage Nomads and Blackie Mercado from the Savage Skulls) it shows the other side of gangs, as protectors, role models, and positive influences in their community, from cleaning up empty lots to helping kids with homework. Shot by Fecher who taught in the Bronx in the 60s, with Chalfant who documented graffiti in the area, Flyin’ Cut Sleeves weaves footage of gangs then and what came of them (mostly staying in the borough) in the early nineties. Digital. Approx. 60 min.