ABOUT

The Holy Grail of hip-hop movies.

—XLR8R

BLU-RAY HISTORY

Style Wars on Blu Ray

About 10 years ago, Tony Silver and I set out to digitize Style Wars in High Definition. For best results you must go back to the first generation, and make the transfer from the original edited negative. To our great disappointment, we discovered that the negative had been badly damaged by moisture during the two decades it had been in storage. We were told that once we made the transfer, we could restore the film digitally, frame by frame, but that the cost would be astronomical. Sadly, we we put the idea on the shelf. Tony died before realizing this dream. In the years since, His widow, Lisa Citron, and I were able to raise the money for the film’s restoration, almost entirely through fan-based donations. Catherine Keener recruited celebrities from the world of film to contribute artworks they had made for a fundraising auction; a successful Kickstarter campaign raised enough money to produce the outtakes. Through more good fortune, we engaged Chris Woods who did the digital restoration without hurting the beautiful sensual quality of the original film; Gerry Gershman shepherded us through the process of acquiring all the music rights; Philippe Deneree selected the best outtakes and edited them into an exciting new document; Victor Kanefsky contributed the footage of a film bring shot at his studio, Valkhn Films, in 1983 while he and Sam Pollard were editing Style Wars. Victor and Philippe have put together that footage to make a 21 minute film about the editing of Style Wars. Lisa and I are very grateful to the Public Art Films board members, Carlos, Raquel, Sacha and Brian, for the bottomless well of their support for this project. Style Wars, the BluRay, is dedicated to the loving memory of Tony Silver, Burleigh Wartes, Jim Szalapski, Kippy Dee, Dondi, Shy 147, Kase 2, Rammellzee, and Iz the Wiz.

Henry Chalfant, January 2015

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THE DOCUMENTARY


The Original Style Wars

Directed by Tony Silver and produced by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant, it was awarded the Grand Prize for Documentaries at the 1983 Sundance Film Festival. STYLE WARS is regarded as the indispensable document of New York Street culture of the early ’80s, the filmic record of a golden age of youthful creativity that exploded into the world from a city in crisis.

STYLE WARS captured the look and feel of New York’s ramshackle subway system as graffiti writers’ public playground, battleground and spectacular artistic canvas. Opposing them by every means possible were Mayor Edward Koch, the police, and the New York Transit Authority. Meanwhile MCs, DJs and B-boys rocked the city with new sounds and new moves and street corner breakdance battles evolved into performance art.

New York’s legendary kings of graffiti and b-boys own a special place in the hip hop pantheon. STYLE WARS has become an emblem of the original, embracing spirit of hip hop as it reached out across the world from underground tunnels, uptown streets, clubs and playgrounds.

THE FILMMAKERS

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Henry Chalfant – Producer

Starting out as a sculptor in New York in the 1970s, Henry Chalfant turned to photography and film to do an in-depth study of hip-hop culture and graffiti art. He became one of the foremost authorities on New York subway art and other aspects of urban youth culture. His photographs record hundreds of ephemeral art works that have long since vanished. To Chalfant’s credit are three of the most influential documentations of aerosol art. He co-authored the book Subway Art (1984) with Martha Cooper and he co-produced the film Style Wars (1983) with the film’s director Tony Silver. In 1987 Chalfant co-authored the book Spraycan Art with James Prigoff, documenting the global expansion of graffiti. Each one of these documentary efforts have been embraced by the international graffiti community and they have served as cultural blueprints for graffiti art movements around the world. Chalfant also directed with Rita Fecher a documentary on South Bronx gangs, Flyin’ Cut Sleeves (1994) and he directed From Mambo to Hip Hop (2006) portraying two generations of Latino youth growing up in the South Bronx.

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Tony Silver – Director / Producer

(April 15, 1935 – February 1, 2008)
 Tony Silver was a native of New York City, where he attended Columbia University and briefly pursued an acting career, before becoming the leading independent maker of movie trailers on the east coast. He began making his own films in 1970. Following Style Wars, he directed and produced a feature documentary, Arisman Facing The Audience, tracing the artistic and spiritual journeys from Manhattan to Guangzhou, China of Marshall Arisman, master painter, teacher, and storyteller, Marshall Arisman. Admired worldwide for uncompromising images of worldly violence and terror Arisman is seen as “an enchanter, a shaman,” perceived as a painter of “serial killer syndrome,” and the possessor of knowledge about the afterlife, that, says a colleague, he “won’t tell us [about it], he’s so fucking perverse.” Silver’s public television film Anita Ellis, For The Record documents a rare recording session by the legendary jazz-pop singer with the pianist Ellis Larkins. Broadcast on PBS and in England, Germany and Scandinavia. Silver’s first film, The Miss Nude America Movie (1970), documents the strange journey of a wheelchair-bound boy, founder of Naked City, Indiana. The film was shown at the New York Film Festival.

THE BOARD

Henry Chalfant

Henry Chalfant

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LISA CITRON

LISA CITRON

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CARLOS MARE 139 RODRIGUEZ

CARLOS MARE 139 RODRIGUEZ

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RAQUEL CEPEDA

RAQUEL CEPEDA

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SACHA JENKINS

SACHA JENKINS

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BRIAN KATZ

BRIAN KATZ

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Henry Chalfant

Henry Chalfant

Starting out as a sculptor in New York in the 1970s, HENRY CHALFANT turned to photography and film to do an in-depth study of hip-hop culture and graffiti art. He became one of the foremost authorities on New York subway art and other aspects of urban youth culture. His photographs record hundreds of ephemeral art works that have long since vanished. To Chalfant’s credit are three of the most influential documentations of aerosol art. He co-authored the book Subway Art (1984) with Martha Cooper and he co-produced the film Style Wars (1983) with the film’s director Tony Silver. In 1987 Chalfant co-authored the book Spraycan Art with James Prigoff, documenting the global expansion of graffiti. Each one of these documentary efforts have been embraced by the international graffiti community and they have served as cultural blueprints for graffiti art movements around the world. Chalfant also directed with Rita Fecher a documentary on South Bronx gangs, Flyin’ Cut Sleeves (1994) and he directed From Mambo to Hip Hop (2006) portraying two generations of Latino youth growing up in the South Bronx.

LISA CITRON

LISA CITRON

Lisa Citron, wife of the late Tony Silver, is a board member of Public Art Films, Inc. and founder/director of (Out)Laws & Justice, a middle and high school project-based curriculum about the conquest of Western America. The project culminates in student-written and performed play: History on Stage! Inspired by the capacity of youth to create new forms and new understandings documented in Style Wars, Lisa and Tony collaborated on a short film to showcase (Out)Laws & Justice. His untimely death left making a feature documentary about (Out)Laws & Justice uncompleted.

CARLOS MARE 139 RODRIGUEZ

CARLOS MARE 139 RODRIGUEZ

Sculptor/Painter/New Media Producer who has been a Graffiti Style Writer since 1976. His evolution into style writing sculpture pioneered a vision that had, before him, no reference outside of the painted subways of the time. Throughout his career as a sculptor he has consistently brought innovation to the genre’s aesthetic and vocabulary.

As an early adaptor of technology he brought Style Wars online in the early 90s and ultimately earned the prestigious 2006 Webby Award for his launch of documentary Style Wars website. He was an Associate Producer on the Style Wars double DVD release. Mare 139 designed the annual BET/Black Entertainment Award, given annually to entertainers, athletes and actors. Recipients include Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Jay Z, Prince Snoop Dog, Beyonce, Kobe Bryant and others. In 2006-07 he worked closely with Director/Actor Robert DeNiro on the film The Good Shepherd as a documenter of ‘the making of the film’ and as member of Mr. DeNiro’s editing team. His writing has been published in Martha Coopers brilliant photo book Street Play that documents the imaginative ‘play’ of children in the streets of NYC in the late 1970’s. http://www.mare139.com

RAQUEL CEPEDA

RAQUEL CEPEDA

Writer and documentary filmmaker Raquel Cepeda is the author of Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina (Atria/ Simon & Schuster), equal parts memoir about Cepeda’s coming of age in New York City and Santo Domingo, and detective story chronicling her yearlong journey to discover the truth about her ancestry. The book, now out in paperback, is the first non-academic memoir written by a Dominican-American author to be published in the popular market; it also looks at what it means to be Latina and American, or ambicultural, today. A former magazine editor, Cepeda has written extensively about identity, race, Latino issues, hip-hop culture and music, and travel for The New York Times, The Village Voice, CNN.com, and many others publications. Cepeda directed and produced “Bling: A Planet Rock,” the critically acclaimed documentary produced by VH1 and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) about American hip-hop culture’s obsession with diamonds and how that obsession intersected itself into Sierra Leone’s decade-long conflict. She is currently in production on “SOME GIRLS,” a documentary following a group of Latina-American teens from a Bronx-based suicide prevention center that are transformed, in part, by an exploration of their roots via the use of ancestral DNA testing. A New York Foundation of the Arts fellow in screenwriting, Cepeda lives with her husband, daughter, and son in her beloved New York City. For further information, visit Cepeda at www.djalirancher.com

SACHA JENKINS

SACHA JENKINS

A native New Yorker, published his first magazine—Graphic Scenes & X-Plicit Language (a ‘zine about the graffiti subculture)—at age 17. By age 20, Jenkins would publish Beat Down, the first-ever hip hop newspaper. Thereafter, Jenkins would go on to be the music editor at Vibe magazine, and write about artists like Kid Rock and 50 Cent for Rolling Stone and Spin.

In 1994, Jenkins would co-found ego trip magazine—hip hop’s most respected critical voice. ego trip would go on to produce two books—ego trip’s Book of Rap Lists (St. Martin’s Press) and ego trip’s Big Book of Racism (Reagan Books). In 2000, Jenkins was awarded a fellowship to the graduate school of journalism at Columbia University (The National Arts Journalism Program); it was Jenkins’ rich knowledge of the history of New York subway graffiti that would deliver him to the ivy league.

Recently, Jenkins has worked as a television producer, building his strong reputation as a creative via shows like Cartoon Networks’ The Boondocks (creative consultant) Vh1’s The White Rapper Show (executive producer) and Miss Rap Supreme. Jenkins released two books in 2008–Piecebook: The Secret drawings of Graffiti Writers (Prestel) and the New York Times best seller The Way I Am, Eminem’s authorized biography (Dutton/Penguin).

BRIAN KATZ

BRIAN KATZ

With over eight years experience developing and implementing cutting-edge integrated marketing and advertising campaigns, Brian Katz is a career communications professional who cites the rich history of New York City graffiti as one of his primary influences.

While receiving a bachelor’s degree in History from Hunter College, Brian paid dues as a street team marketing intern at Priority Records, Pop Smear Magazine and Buzztone Management. He subsequently spent five years working in Institutional Sales at Salomon Smith Barney in New York, while simultaneously launching seminal online street art magazine Bozack Nation, before relocating to Los Angeles and earning his Master’s degree at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication, where his area of concentration was on emerging media and marketing.

Brian currently serves as Director of Digital Marketing for Luumena at WME, and was previously an Account Director with global PR firm Weber Shandwick. He is also founder and principal of Los Angeles based digital communications and strategy agency Deep + Wide.

PRESS

A breakthrough documentary.

—A.O. Scott, The New York Times

NEWS

Style Wars: The Outtakes Project
Hypebeast, 11/2011

Style Wars: Additional Footage
The Source, 11/18/2011

Help The Style Wars Project Preserve A Piece Of Hip-Hop History!
Global Grind, 11/18/2011

Style Wars: The Outtakes
More Than a Stance, 11/17/2011

REVIEWS

“A breakthrough documentary.”
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“The best hip hop film ever made. Reveals hip hop in its purest state, capturing it before it was part of pop culture and a source of revenue for major corporate entities. The film shows the innocence of these young innovators who are considered forefathers of a movement bigger than they could have ever imagined. A superb job of showing the bond between the different elements, displaying how the art, music and dance are interchangeable and maintain a close symbiotic relationship.”
—Insomniac—DVD Highlights

“Evocative. Unforgettable. Style Wars emanates joy from both sides of the camera. A film that vibrates with the energy, poetry and color of an art form rising up from the streets. The two-disc DVD gives the film the deluxe treatment it deserves. Best DVD of the Year.”
—Nathan Rabin, The Onion

“The spark that lit a flame that continues to burn. Style Wars is a crucial point of history.”
—Andre Torres, Wax Poetics
“The importance of the film is even greater now than when it was released.”
—David Jakubiak, Chicago Sun-Times
“Captures this vibrant street culture with one of the most revelatory documents of the times.”
—Ethan LaCroix, Time Out New York

 

“A remarkable document of graffiti culture at its apex. After seeing Style Wars, one can’t help but long for a bit of the chaos and creativity of the graffiti years.”
—Martin Edlund, New York Sun
“Talk about groundbreaking films: Style Wars, a documentary about graffiti artists, was first broadcast by PBS. A prescient study of taggers, their exuberant art and the roots of hip-hop culture.”
—Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“Remarkable! A movie that, per KRS-One, ‘anybody who wants to understand hip hop needs to see.’ Also anyone who wants to understand New York, and a lot more.”
—Premiere

 

“The Holy Grail of hip-hop movies.”
—XLR8R
5 Stars—Highest Rating! The best hip hop culture study ever made.”
—Stuart Derdeyn, Vancouver Province.
“Hip hop’s Rosetta Stone.”
—VIBE

 

“Visually the movie is as stunning as the film’s subjects are fascinating. And the accompanying soundtrack is used to amazing effect.”
—Brian Coleman, URB
“A stunning achievement. The mother and son constitute one of the most deeply human encounters I know of on film.”
—Ronald Gottesman, Professor of English, University of Southern California
“Groundbreaking and nearly perfect, a heady slice of Americana. It’s the kids themselves who speak most eloquently to their work.”
—Mark Savlov, Austin Chronicle

AWARDS

WINNER

Grand Prize for Documentaries, Sundance Film Festival 1984
Chicago, Houston and Athens Film Festivals
Grand Prize, Montreal Festival of Films on Art
Prized Pieces Award, National Black Programming Consortium

OFFICIAL SELECTION

RiverRun Film Festival, Cinema Paradise/Honolulu 2004
Tribeca Film Festival, New York 2003
Edinburgh International Film Festival 2003
Stockholm International Film Festival 2003
Oulu (Finland) Music Film & Video Festival 2003
H2O International Film Festival (New York) 2003
Bergen (Norway) International Film Festival 2003
Barcelona In-Edit Music Film Festival (Audience Award) 2003
Black Soil Film Festival (Rotterdam) 2003
Walker Art Center, Siskel Film Center, International House of Philadelphia 2003
REVelation Film Festival (Perth, Australia) 2002
Official Selection, Toronto and Sydney International Film Festivals

TELEVISED SHOWINGS

Broadcast on PBS, Channel Four (UK) and Western Europe.

WEB AWARDS

The Style Wars flash website was the People’s Voice Winner at the 2006 Webby Awards. Site coming soon!

SAMPLING

Gallery

The spark that lit a flame that continues to burn.
Style Wars is a crucial point of history.

—Andre Torres, Wax Poetics

TRAINS

TRAIN GALLERY

TRAIN GALLERY

All train photos by Henry Chalfant

Train selections from the STYLE WARS filming era

CULTURE

CULTURE GALLERY

CULTURE GALLERY

All culture photos by Henry Chalfant

Classic photos taken around the time STYLE WARS was in production

ARCHIVES


HENRY CHALFANT’S BIG SUBWAY ARCHIVE

Henry Chalfant’s Big Graffiti Archive is a work of visual anthropology and one of the seminal documents of American popular culture in the late twentieth century. The original artworks depicted here, which have been the inspiration and guide for thousands of youthful artists around the world, were never able to endure for long before the city cleaned the cars, or the artists’ enemies crossed them out. Chalfant’s patience and determination in hunting down and capturing these masterpieces with his camera has left the world with a representative cross section of some of the best work by the most talented young artists who painted New York City’s subway cars in the seventies and eighties, the golden age of graffiti. A handful of Chalfant’s photos have been featured in such books as Subway Art and films like Style Wars. Now for the first time, the entire collection will be made available, released serially over the next year until all 800 trains have been published. The book is designed by Max Hergenrother and the video interviews with the artists of the era are produced by Carl Weston, of Videograf Productions.

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BLU-RAY INFO

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When director Tony Silver and partner-producer Henry Chalfant delivered the broadcast version of their prize-winning film to PBS in 1983, the world received its first full immersion into a phenomenon that had taken over New York City. Graffiti artists had invented a new visual language in New York’s ramshackle subway system using trains as their canvas. Mayor Ed Koch, the police, and the New York Transit Authority struggle to combat the rising tide of street art, while MC’s, DJ’s and B-boys rock the city, turning street corner breakdance battles into performance art. 

Style Wars embraces the spirit of hip hop as it exploded into the world from underground tunnels, uptown streets, clubs and playgrounds. New York’s legendary kings of graffiti own a special place in the hip hop pantheon. This film is regarded by many as the definitive document of the emerging hip hop culture, and the continuing struggle to keep its authentic spirit alive. 

The Film:

Style Wars, finally in HD. A beautiful new 2K transfer from the original 16mm print. 
• Feature commentary by director-producer Tony Silver and producer Henry Chalfant.
• Digitally Remastered 5.1 Dolby soundtrack. 
• English subtitles for the hearing impaired. 


The Extras:

The Outtakes: A brand new 40 min film. With the help of donors and fans from Kickstarter we sorted through almost 30 hours of left over materials to bring you hidden gems and fascinating moments never before seen. Also transferred to HD from the original 16mm, The Outtakes is part nostalgia and part hindsight, taking fans back in time to tell new stories,  show slightly different perspectives and delve deeper into the world of early 80’s New York City. 

B-Boy Showcase: 10 minutes of fast paced phenomenally acrobatic gems. The Rocksteady Crew at their tour launch party, in the studio, on the streets, and battling it out against Dynamic Rockers at the United Skates of America in Queens. 

Style Wars In The Cutting Room: In the summer of ’83 a camera crew visited Valkhn Films, an editing house where Style Wars was being painstakingly sliced together. This 25 min piece is a rare glimpse at the process of telling a real story as it’s happening and the people who kept it real. See editor Sam Pollard, director Tony Silver, supervising editor Victor Kanefsky, and more, make history in this unusual and candid short. 

The soundtrack features classics performed by The Sugar Hill Gang, The Treacherous Three, The Fearless Four, Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five, Trouble Funk, Rammellzee / K-Rob and Dion. New York’s kings of graffiti and b-boys own a special place in the hip hop pantheon. In Style Wars they continue to empower new generations with the original spirit of hip hop, as it reached out from underground tunnels, from uptown streets, clubs and playgrounds, to the world at large

Blu-Ray FAQ’s

Is the Blu-Ray available in Europe?
Yes, the Blu-Ray is All Regions

Does the Blu-Ray have closed captioning?
Yes, both the film and the extras have closed captioning

What languages is the Blu-Ray available in?
English

SHOP

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STYLE WARS (Original Version) on DVD

The original, cult classic, 1983 prize-winning film originally broadcasted on PBS. Available now on DVD.

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STYLE WARS (Revisited) on DVD

The classic film plus “never-before-released” outtakes, interviews, “where are they now” footage and more.

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STYLE WARS on BLU-RAY

Style Wars in HD. Featuring commentary, a remastered soundtrack and over an hour of fresh new bonus materials.

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