|Directed by||Henry Chalfant, Tony Silver|
Some call it tagging, some call it writing, still others call it bombing--it's all graffiti. Whether it's art or not is another matter, but it's undeniably illegal. Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant's historic PBS documentary Style Wars tracks the rise and fall of subway graffiti in New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At the peak of its popularity, graffiti was as much a part of B-boy culture as rapping, scratching, and breaking. The filmmakers present a sympathetic, but well-rounded portrait of their subject through extensive interviews with taggers--notably Seen, Kase, and Dondi--art collectors, transit authorities, and even Mayor Ed Koch, who would eventually put the hammer down. Along the way, they documented the burgeoning breakdance scene, with a focus on the world-famous Rock Steady Crew. The soundtrack features selections from Grandmaster Flash, the Treacherous Three, and other tagger-approved icons of old-school hip-hop.