The Slits and Punk Documentaries Top 5

This video is not strictly about film, but I wanted to post it in order to share one of my musical influences. The Slits were a punk band from the late seventies punk rock scene that infused reggae into their rock. Ari Up is the flamboyant one dancing around in the video. She is very influential as an artist that mixed rock, dub, reggae, and electronics in the Slits and also in her solo career. She also has an interesting voice because she is german, but sings in english and in later years because she transferred to Jamaica to live, she also has that inflection in her voice. She died last year of cancer and the punk world misses her very much.

I think the Slits would be a really good subject for a music documentary. That got me thinking about other rock documentaries I have watched in the past. These are a few that I recommend:

1. The Filth and the Fury (directed by Julien Temple)

This film focuses on the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols. Interesting connection is that John Lydon was Ari Up’s step-father or ex-step father. Anyway he was connected to her and influenced her greatly.

2. Joy Division (directed by Jon Savage)

This film was put out in connection with Control and I think it is a great companion piece to that film and also to 24 Hour Party People. It tells the story of Joy Division and the forced break up of the band after Ian Curtis killed himself. The remaining members of the band reformed from the ashes and grief of the suicide to form the more popular New Order.

3. The Gits (directed by Kerri O’Kane)

This film is about a girl fronted band from the nineties that had a lot of influence on the rrriot girl music movement. However the band’s life was cut short by the death of the enigmatic lead singer Mia Zapata. She died after someone attacked her, raped her and then killed her while she was coming home from a show. Some sad stuff, but some great performance footage, interesting interviews and inspiring acts that came out of this heinous crime.

4. Stop Making Sense (directed by Jonathan Demme)

One of the most influential rock documentaries of all time. This is a different documentary than the ones above. It is a concert film where The Talking Heads put on this amazing show that chronicles the evolution and downfall of a band, the evolution of a concert show and the evolution of man’s creativity. It also has the lead singer in a huge suit, so there’s that.

5. The Devil and Daniel Johnston (directed by Jeff Feuerzeig)

Daniel Johnston isn’t as punk sounding as the other artists I mentioned above but he has the punk attitude. He makes his own recordings, does his own artwork and is slightly (okay mostly) insane. This documentary is slightly depressing in what happens to him, but fortunately he is still alive and is still making weird and magical music today. That’s more than I can say for most of the other documentary subjects that I have mentioned. I guess death just runs in the punk mentality. Better to burn out than fade away, right?

These documentaries are just a few that I thought of off the top of my head. I will probably want to share more rock documentaries and documentaries on other musical genres (like jazz and classical) at a later date.

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One thought on “The Slits and Punk Documentaries Top 5

  1. Hi Maria, I know this is a fairly old post but thought you might want to know – your wish is our command, and a Slits film is very close to being completed! “Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits” is currently in post-production, with an aim to exhibit in late Summer of this year. Please check us out at slitsdoc.com.

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