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Thursday, September 13

Q&A with Co-Producer Henry Chalfant

(1983, Tony Silver) “They call themselves writers because that’s what they do. They write their names, among other things everywhere. Names they’ve been given or have chosen for themselves. Most of all they write in and on subway trains that carry their name from one end of the city to the other. It’s called, ‘bombing.’ And it has equally assertive counterparts in Latin music and dancing.” Artist and photographer Henry Chalfant had been snapping pictures of graffiti on the subway when he met filmmaker Tony Silver and the duo’s union birthed the graffiti movie par excellence. While Wild Style evokes the relentless energy of the time, Style Wars delves profoundly into the ethos of the writers – one-armed “computer rock” prophet KASE 2 rhyming and boasting, ski goggled SKEME sparring with his mother in their kitchen, graf villain CAP writing over burners, DONDI musing on the solitary writer surrounded by metal, SEEN doing a step-by-step how-to to Dion’s “The Wanderer”– and the collective psychology of the city at the time, from angry train riders to smug Mayor Koch and snoot Richard Ravitch, then head of the MTA. Made for PBS, yet hardly shown on it, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1984 (then called the USAFF), Style Wars is, as Silver would say, Greek drama and high opera: his choice of the rising swell of Wagner into the Sugar Hill Gang still gives goose bumps! DCP. Approx. 70 min.