Arts Desk

Silverdocs Preview: Barbershop Punk and Ian MacKaye, Documentary Hero

Increasingly, Silverdocs is a film festival of international renown, but that doesn't mean it excludes local subjects and filmmakers—they frequently appear on the Silverdocs slate. On this year's program, which you can read all about in this week's Washington City Paper, some area names creep into films of more national concern: D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, for example, appears in Waiting for Superman, Davis Guggenheim's film about the the American public-education system.

Dischord Records co-founder Ian MacKaye also appears in a film: Barbershop Punk, about the net neutrality issue, and how an afficionado of barbershop-quartet music raised it to national prominence after he discovered Comcast was blocking his use of peer-to-peer networks (he was sharing noncopyrighted music). Ostensibly, not especially punk rock, but MacKaye and the film make the case, anyway. From the beginning of the Barbershop Punk:

As long as there’s been a mainstream there’s been a counterculture, and that’s what I’ve been looking for in my life. I kept looking around like, where’s the positive, creative, constructive world, or community that questions conventional thinking on every level, where is this community? And for me I found it in punk rock.

MacKaye seems to have become of mainstay of counterculturally minded documentaries these days: He's in I Need that Record!, a film about the decline of American record stores that was released on DVD, appropriately, on Record Store Day this year. And he talks about skateboarding in the recent shorts series D.I.Y. America, which was subject to the lamest noncontroversy ever.

MacKaye will also, I learned yesterday from Positive Force co-founder Mark Andersen, appear in an upcoming documentary on the local activist group titled Positive Force: More than a Witness. That's still in the works, but here's a teaser trailer starring Andersen:

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