Fifth Annual Afro-Punk Festival at BAM


BAM’s fifth annual ode to black power and DIY revolution blows out the boom-box with a 20th-anniversary screening of Do the Right Thing (part of a full day of otherwise unexpected Spike Lee programming, like Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads and A Huey P. Newton Story), and refuses to be confined to theater alone: The series will take to the streets with both a Brooklyn block party and a short-term skate park with demonstrations, BMX contests, and live music.

Noteworthy among the doc-centric schedule is Mark Currie and Rachel Wang’s Afro-Saxons, an amusing and lively glimpse into the U.K.’s competitive Afro hairdressing scene. The filmmaking is unrefined and missing context, but the subculture characters and caught moments are fun to watch. There’s braid stylist to the stars, Angela, who had her mother chip her tooth with pliers at a young age so that she could get the gold “A” cap she always wanted, now a trademark of her persona. And Thai couple George and Apple, who, with their hilariously cutthroat approach to competition—combined with their gravity-defying avant-do’s—seem unreal enough to belong in a Christopher Guest mockumentary. But given the film’s racial identity, it’s a shame that their outsider obsession with black hair isn’t explored.

David Leaf’s outstanding remembrance The Night James Brown Saved Boston documents the 1968 night after MLK was shot, when Mr. Dynamite chilled out the riot-ready masses with a live televised concert. Actual riot: 1974’s Attica presents a livid re-creation of the events that led to New York’s infamous prison revolt (and Dog Day Afternoon‘s quotable chant).