Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American, Mexican, Australian, New Zealand and German rights to director Paul Rachman‘s 2006 Sundance Film Festival world premiere doc “American Hardcore,” written by Steven Blush, and inspired by his book “American Hardcore: A Tribal History.” The film gives an account of the American hardcore punk movement from its early roots in 1980 through its heyday in urban centers through its decline in 1986. Originally scheduled to screen at the upcoming SXSW Film Festival later this week, the film was pulled from the event following the acquisition.
From 1980 to 1986 followers of hardcore music, mostly Reagan-era misfit kids, created a social movement that went on to influence many of the biggest bands of the ’90s and today. Many admirers of the era claim that without the American hardcore movement, grunge rock bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, as well as the music of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beastie Boys and Green Day, would not exist.
Rachman, a music video director and filmmaker, documented many of the bands at the time and worked closely with them to gather archival footage of performances, as well as new interviews. He is one of the founders of the Slamdance Film Festival and premiered the movie in the midnight section at Sundance this year. The movie had been scheduled for the midnight section at SXSW as well, but was withdrawn from the event after Sony Classics closed its deal for the movie.
Through interviews and rare footage, “American Hardcore” charts the roots of hardcore in the U.S., which in part, grew out of a reaction against the rise of Reagan conservatism and a backlash against American suburbia. The pillars of American punk, including Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Ian McKay (Minor Threat), H.R. (Bad Brains) and others recall the era throughout the film.
“It was the manifestation of youth… kids gone wild,” said McKay (in the film), he later fronted Washington, D.C. band Fugazi. “For being losers, we were creating something better,” said singer Moby (formerly in the band Flipper), about the time period, also in the film.
SPC co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard as well as Dylan Leiner, EVP of acquisition and productions, negotiated the deal with Diana Holtzberg of Films Transit International, Inc. Stephen F. Breimer of Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosentha & LaViolette, LLP and Marc Glick of Glick and Weintraub provided legal advice to the filmmakers.
“Sony Pictures Classics historically likes to celebrate films that define an era, a movement, a subculture,” commented Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Dylan Leiner in a joint statement. “‘American Hardcore’ is the genuine article in every way – the authenticity, the storytelling, the filmmaking. Paul and Steven have done an excellent job in capturing the Hardcore scene and we look forward to making it a part of the cinematic landscape.”