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Punk Rock Cinema

“Punk the Capital” Spotlights Early DC Punk Scene


Washington D.C.’s underground music scene forever altered the definition of punk, transforming it from nihilist towards something constructive. Within this unlikely town in 1979, generations, musical genres and powerful personalities created a volatile mix that changed music and culture around the world.

“Punk the Capital, Straight from Washington D.C.,” directed and produced by veteran D.C. filmmakers James Schneider and Paul Bishow, captures the essence of D.C. punk from its source and steers shy of nostalgia, making this history relevant 35 years later.

Scheduled for completion in late 2014, “Punk the Capital” illuminates the early punk scene with a focus on the infamous Madams Organ artists collective. Stepping inside this anarchic rowhouse transports the viewer to the late 70’s, a time full of discovery and sense of possibility for well known figures such as Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye. It was also where seminal bands such as the Bad Brains, Black Market Baby, and the Teen Idles took off and where the sound and ideas behind “D.C. harDCore” truly began.

Since then, D.C. punk continues to leave its mark on not just punk and rock, but on the broader American culture. “This documentary, ‘Punk the Capital’ is a portrait of how the small D.C. punk scene became a powerful entity,” says director James Schneider, “Even though the D.C. scene is the subject, punk is the story.”

James Schneider, a D.C. native who grew up in the skate and punk scene of the early-mid 1980s, has spent the last 20 years making and producing films. His filmography includes; “Blue is Beautiful” (1997) featuring Dischord recording artists The Make-up, “The Band that Met the Sound Beneath” (2012) featuring a Chilean punk band, and “Young Oceans of Cinema” (2011) which premiered at the 2012 edition of the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Schneider’s award-winning work has been screened at film festivals and museums around the world.

Paul Bishow moved to D.C. in the late 1970s and was immediately drawn to the intimacy of the punk scene. He was a founding member of the I am Eye Film Forum, and his footage has appeared in many documentaries including Don Lett’s “Punk Attitude” (2005) and Mandy Stein’s “Bad Brains, Band in DC” (2012). Mostly using Super-8 film, he made 8 feature length movies and dozens of short films.

Over the last 12 years, Schneider and Bishow have been compiling concert footage, interviewing artists, and connecting with the people and ideas that changed music history forever. “Punk the Capital” takes us on a punk journey from the inside out, sharing the rich past of D.C.’s punk/harDCore scenes, and maybe more importantly, inspiring future generations.

Join the active D.C punk history and support the film by following “Punk the Capital” on Facebook, or visit

Kickstarter Link

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John Waters’ Movie Pink Flamingos Is One Of The Most Punk Rock Movies Of All Time

Pink Flamingos

If punk rock is all about breaking boundaries, a DIY attitude, shocking the mainstream, and even making a political statement or two, Pink Flamingos may be one of the most punk rock movies of all time. Despite director John Waters subsequent success with movies like Hairspray, Pink Flamingos may still be his signature film despite being produced for only ten thousand dollars. The name seems to be based on the kitschy pink flamingos that are used to decorate the lawn of the trailer park home of Babs Johnson.

The cult classic featured a who’s who of John Waters’ Baltimore crew, smartly called The Dreamlanders, such as lead character Divine, the unforgettable Edith Massey as the “egg lady,” blonde bombshell Mary Vivian Pearce, Cookie Mueller, and Mink Stole.

The plot revolves a lovable trailer trash family, lead by matriarch Babs Johnson (Divine), and her family. They are in an intense rivalry with another Baltimore-based family Connie and Raymond Marble for the title of the filthiest people in the world. During this feud pretty much every perverse act (and then some) is committed, particularly the legendary last scene where Divine ingests her dog’s doodoo droppings.

What set apart Pink Flamingos from a typical, run-of-the-mill X-rated movie, is the inherent talent of the cast and a sense of brilliant transgressive energy that runs through the entire film. Even watching it today, the film feels dangerous, which is a huge compliment considering that people are much harder to shock nowadays. The movie still gets played in showings around the country, despite debuting in 1972. This shows what a lasting and groundbreaking effect Pink Flamingos has made in cinema. Below is a feature on the movie and the impact it has had.