American Hardcore

Director: Paul Rachman
Screenwriters: Steven Blush

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


Generally unheralded at the time, the early '80s hardcore punk rock scene gave birth to much of the rock music and culture that followed. There would be no Nirvana, Beastie Boys, or Red Hot Chili Peppers were it not for hardcore pioneers such as Black Flag, Bad Brains, and Minor Threat. Hardcore was more than music; it was a social movement created by Reagan-era misfit kids. The participants constituted a tribe unto themselves—some found a voice, others escaped in the hard-edged music; some sought a better world, others were just angry and wanted to raise hell. American Hardcore traces this lost subculture from its early roots to its extinction.

Based on Steven Blush's book of the same name, American Hardcore takes the audience on a frenzied joyride through the movement and across the country, showing the various regional incarnations, distinct in style but pulsing with the same frenetic energy and aggression. Director Paul Rachman brandishes phenomenal archival concert footage and interviews with many of the key players, letting them tell it like it was in their own words. The end result is an onslaught of sight and sound that captures the spirit of the bands and a movement that said a big "f—k you" to politicians, music labels, and anyone else who got in the way.

— Trevor Groth

Screening Details


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