The Roxie's Post-Punk Film Series This Weekend: Here's What You Need to Know
We absolutely thrive on live music, but the snarky bartenders, fickle sound systems, and the general social hustle of attending local concerts can be draining. Occasionally we need a weekend of solitude and darkness, but don't want to forego assimilating new music and information about it. Luckily, this weekend a special film series has been curated at the Roxie Theater that simultaneously sates our need for music and isolation. The program, entitled "This Must Be the Place: Post-Punk Tribes 1978-1982," is being shown over three evenings this weekend, July 27-29. Each night features an array of obscure and unreleased documentaries, live footage, and low-budget films exploring regional punk scenes internationally. Every night of the series is enticing, but we're understandably biased towards Saturday, when the selections revolve around San Francisco's eclectic early punk and post-punk scenes. Here's a rundown on what to expect on all three nights:
The first night of "This Must be the Place" features films focused on the divergent paths of punk in late-70's Europe. Quickly after the initial punk explosion, European groups splintered into a variety of subgenres. By the time the Sex Pistols disbanded, distinct styles of punk and what is now referred to as "post-punk" sprung up amongst art students, degenerates, and opportunistic professional musicians alike. Friday's first showing is La Brute Et Moi, a film shot in France in 1979. The plot is underdeveloped at best, but performances from Edith Nylon, The Dogs, The Party, Ici Paris, and Anoushka's leading role encapsulate French New Wave proclivities at their finest. Following that is Rough Cut and Ready Dubbed, a documentary focused on English Oi! and 2nd wave ska bands like Cockney Rejects, Sham 69, and The Selecter. A secret film will be shown following these two that the Roxie's website insists we have never seen. Judging by the obscurity of the announced films, we believe it.
Not to disregard the contemporary local punk scene, but it's a great time to be a fan of early Bay Area punk and post-punk. We have labels like Superior Viaduct reissuing San Francisco's most art-damaged and early post-punk, gallery events like the one recently held at 1-2-3-4 Go! Records of James Stark's photography related to the punk band Crime, and now an entire evening of lost films focused on the region's early punk scene. The main event will be a shorts program entitled "I Can See It and I'm Part of It," featuring selections from In the Red; concert footage from a benefit concert at the Mabuhay Gardens with performances from The Sleepers, UXA, The Avengers, Mutants, and The Dils; and scene fixture Bruce Conner's music videos. The notorious Mabuhay show was a benefit for striking coal miners that raised over $3,000 in 1978. Live audio has been in circulation, but the footage of these seminal groups remains mostly unseen. The evening begins with David Markey's first film, The Slog Movie, a ramshackle documentary focused on early '80s Southern California punk that can be seen as a precursor to his later celebrated work, like Desperate Teenage Lovedolls and 1991: The Year Punk Broke.
Two films showcasing the especially art-damaged inclination of East Coast post-punk groups will be shown during the final evening of "This Must Be the Place." Debt Begins at 20 is Stephanie Beroes oblique approach to documenting Pittsburgh's nascent punk scene in 1980. Filmed in stark black and white, the camera portrays punks at home, at parties and engaging in all manner of bizarre activities to grapple with their boredom. Certain moments appear staged, and much of it is freewheeling and odd, but it is notable as much for the filmmaker's vision as the wildness of her subjects. Following Debt Begins at 20 is Downtown 81. In it, a young Jean-Michel Basquiat guides the camera through Manhattan's Lower East Side. Immediately striking about the film is the sheer dystopian nature of that locale. In the foreground of such a decrepit, urban backdrop are performances from no wave artists like DNA and James Chance, whose challenging, esoteric music seems all the more appropriate given their environment.