PUNK: ATTITUDE, a comprehensive documentary film on punk music and the
subsequent cultural impact of the movement, will be launched in the UK on DVD
on3rd October 2005 by FremantleMedia. This new film has been written and
directed by influential, Grammy award winning director Don Letts. Definitive,
monumental, authoritative and controversial, Punk: Attitude is an absolute must
for all music fans and punks (past, present and lapsed) and provides a unique
inside track on this most significant music genre and social movement.
The film proved a big hit with the critics when it was shown at the prestigious Cannes
and Tribeca film festivals earlier this year and is already being hailed as an important
landmark in music documentary film making by both the film industry and music
Don Letts' success stems from the breadth of his artistic vision and his ability to deliver the
component parts of a story that delves deeper and spreads itself wider than any previous punk
"rockumentary" - whilst steering clear of the usual cliches.
For the first time punk is put into a proper historical context and presented as part of a greater
evolution of music and society in general. Punk is thought provokingly traced right back to the
American music of the 1950's and documented through its explosion onto the music scene in the 1970's (against a background of social
unrest and discontented youth).
The film describes how punk redefined popular music and fashion and legitimised an independent, rebellious, do-it-yourself attitude and
inspired and influenced an entire generation of film makers, poets, photographers, fashion designers and artists. Ultimately, punk is linked
through to anti-establishment music, bands and youth culture of today.
Commentary in PUNK:ATTITUDE is provided by all the main players of the US and UK punk scenes who give first hand accounts of what
actually happened and why. Contributors include Tommy Ramone (The Ramones), Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie and the Banshees), Mick
Jones (The Clash), David Johansen (New York Dolls) and Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols). There's also insight from influential observers
including the cult film director, Jim Jarmusch, the writer Jon Savage and top US rock photographer Bob Gruen. The commentary is
interspersed with excellent archive footage and underpinned by a stellar soundtrack including music by The Sex Pistols, Jimi Hendrix,
Lou Reed, The Buzzcocks, Black Flag, The Clash, Patti Smith, Blink 182 and Limp Bizkit among many others.
PUNK:ATTITUDE is a film only Don Letts could have made. From day one he had a pivotal role in the London punk scene
as the DJ at the legendary Roxy, London's first punk club. He personally knew all the bands and individuals associated with the punk
scene and was single-handedly responsible for turning the first generation of punks onto reggae music. He even appeared on the cover of
issue 7 of seminal punk fanzine Sniffin Glue. After the Roxy he had a successful music career (with Big Audio Dynamite, teaming up with
The Clash's Mick Jones), then went on to make films. He has produced over 300 music videos for artists as diverse as Bob Marley, The
Pogues, Eddie Grant and Elvis Costello and directed several feature films. In 2003 he received a Grammy Award for 'Westway to the
World' - a renowned documentary about The Clash.
Letts' unique position in the punk firmament, his first hand knowledge, near unlimited access to all the past and present 'faces' of the punk
movement and finely honed writing and directing skills make him perfect for the role of punk's ultimate storyteller and the result is a film
that has as much 'attitude' as its subject matter.
PUNK:ATTITUDE is presented in a specially designed collectors case complete with a limited edition of issues 1 and 7 of Sniffin Glue. The
film runs for 90 minutes and DVD extras include over 120 mins of additional interviews on topics including fanzines, fashion, record
companies and women in punk plus an interactive punk family tree and a 'Where are they now?' section. Launched on October 3rd 2005
PUNK:ATTITUDE is priced around £24.99 and will be available through usual quality DVD and music stockists.
For further information, please contact
Faye Neighbour or Alina Shore at Brandnation.
Faye T. 020 7940 7186, E. firstname.lastname@example.org
Alina T. 020 7940 7185, E. email@example.com
In the meantime here's an interview with Don Letts.
"Punk is not something to look back on; it's something
to look forward to" - Don Letts
Q. Don, the film has a strong US influence, that could be seen as controversial by some UK
punk fans, what's your take on the 'balance' between the two punk scenes?
A: This is the story of an attitude not the definitive punk story. If I'd had my way
Marcel Du Champ, Buenel and Lenny Bruce would've been in there too! I wasn't
trying to balance anything just widen the brief. And yes I know so and so's not in it.
My original cut was three hours long and so and so was still not in it!
Q. Punk as a term has become a bit of a catchall for a wide variety of music, fashion, film and
literature influences, is it a devalued term as far as you are concerned?
A: Punk as a term has, in time honoured tradition been castrated. Bottom line is if
your calling yourself a punk you probably ain't!
Q. Which of the current crop of new up and coming bands most represents Punk:Attitude to
A: "If we're talking loud guitars and spiky hair then you've missed the point. You can
be silent and deadly too. It's out there in the least expected places. It's like Strummer
said, "you just gotta make sure your bullshit detector's finely tuned."
Q. Is Punk an evolution or something that had a beginning and an end?
A: "The over emphasise of the late 70's punk explosion trivialises a bigger idea. Punk didn't begin and end in the late
seventies. The point of the film was to put it in the context of an on going counter-culture (that actually predates it's musical
expression). My film starts with Jerry Lee Lewis jumping on a piano and includes the hippies and hip-hop! Point being if it
happened before it can happen again. And looking around today sure needs to".
Q. If you're explaining to kids today that didn't live through the Punk era the effect the music had on both music and society in general,
how would you most succinctly sum up the influence?
A: Back in the day we got into music to be antiestablishment, now people get into music to become part of the establishment.
Q. In the film you speak to wide variety of people involved in the Punk scene both here and
in the US, and you were of course heavily involved yourself. Did anyone tell you anything
you didn't already know?
A: Learnt a lot about the West Coast scene (still don't like the music). Got turned
on to Fugazi and Flipper.
Q. Who did more to influence the world - the hippy movement or punk rock?
A. "The hippy's start with the image of a flower child putting a flower down the
barrel of a soldiers gun and end up as Cheech and Chong. Then the punks had
something to react against. In a ridiculously short period punk becomes safety pins
and bin bags and once again there was something to react against. They're all
important at the moment of inception and when they become part of the
mainstream they take on a new significance: as something to react against".
Q. Is that it now or does the world need any more films about Punk?
A. "If punk is an ongoing dynamic of counter-culture then lets hope they'll always
be something deeper than egos and make up to inspire new films".
Q. Were there any people still living that you really wanted to interview but didn't get the
A: "Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye were on tour, Lydon was in Africa, Iggy was doing
the 'South Bank' thing and Lou's Lou. Having said that I'm glad I got to give space
to people we don't normally get to hear from".
Q. The film is dedicated to Joe Strummer, why is that?
A: "Joe was always saying "just shut up and get on with it" seemed
somewhat appropriate to me".
Q. The film's been a hit at the various film festivals, did this surprise you? Has punk
become an iconic curio subject?
A: "I think one of the reasons it's caught people's imagination is that is not
a trip down memory lane. Punk is not something to look back on; it's
something to look forward to".
Q. It's 30 years on, at the time did you believe that punk was something that would
still be talked about in 30 years time?
A: "The fact that people keep talking about punk is a sad enditement of the
last 30 years of popular culture (well there was hip-hop). Having said that I
think it's like the force in Star Wars you can't stop it; it's out there
somewhere, just probably not in the Top 40 or on MTV. Punk is the birthright
of the young, if their brave enough".
Q: What's next for Don Letts?
A: "Orson Welles said movie making is 90% hustling and 10% filmmaking.
Guess which I spend most my time doing? It's rough in the middle! Just
finished the documentary 'Sun Ra: The Brother From Another Planet' for the
BBC. Currently developing 'The Harder They Fall' a feature length drama set
in London and the world of pirate radio".
A Review of Punk :Attitude is posted on this site HERE.