|Directed by||James Spooner|
|Produced by||Ayanna Mackins
Afro-Punk: The Rock (2003) is a 66-minute documentary film directed by James Spooner, exploring the roles of African Americans within what was then an overwhelmingly white punk scene across the United States of America and abroad. The film focuses on the lives of four African Americans dedicated to the punk rock lifestyle, interspersed with interviews from scores of black punk rockers from all over the United States.
Fans of the film and music organized in a kind of alternative movement, and have supported an annual AfroPunk Festival in Brooklyn, New York since 2005. It was free until 2015, and many fans protested at having to pay $40 to 50 for entry.
Afro-Punk features performances by Bad Brains, Tamar-kali, Cipher, and Ten Grand. It also contains exclusive interviews by members of Fishbone, 24-7 Spyz, Dead Kennedys, Candiria, Orange 9mm, The Veldt, and TV on the Radio, among others. The interviews cover issues of loneliness, exile, interracial dating, black power, and the dual lives led by people of color in communities that are primarily white. (Matt Davis, guitarist and vocalist of Ten Grand, died on August 10, 2003, shortly after the film was released.)
Festivals and recognition
In 2003 the documentary was featured at the American Black Film Festival in South Beach and the Pan African Film & Arts Festival. It won an Official Selection at the Toronto International Film Festival, an Audience Award at the Black Harvest International Film and Video Festival in Chicago, an award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking at the Roxbury Film Festival in Boston, and an award for Best Documentary at the International Jamerican Film and Music Festival in Jamaica.
Developments since the film
Since 2005, in a movement stimulated by activism within the African-American punk community, Spooner and Matthew Morgan were co-founders of an annual AfroPunk Festival, held in Brooklyn, New York. Many others active in the Afro-punk community have been part of this. Spooner's last year with the festival was 2008. In 2015 organizers started charging $40–50/per person as an entry fee to the formerly free festival. It did offer persons a chance to work as volunteers to earn an entry fee. Despite the criticism, the festival was expanding to Paris, France and Atlanta.
Other Afro-punk shows have also been produced across the country. At such shows, the majority of the audience is usually made up of African-American musicians, singers, songwriters, fans, activists, organizers, and artists with a variety of ties to the Afro-punk community.
- Hannah Giorgis, "Gentrifying Afropunk", New Yorker, 26 August 2015; accessed 5 August 2016
- Afro-punk Official Site
- on YouTube
- Afro-punk at the Internet Movie Database
- Afro-Punk interview, Smallworld podcast
- AfroPunk, Multiracial.com
- "Afro-Punk", Filmmonthly
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