Style Wars (1983)

Style Wars chronicles an extraordinary epoch of youthful creativity and civic controversy. Teenage graffiti artists made New York City's ramshackle subway system their public playground, battleground, and spectacular artist canvas. Opposing them were Mayor Ed Koch, the police, and the Transit Authority. As MC's and DJs rocked the city with new sounds, street corner B-boy breakdance battles became performance art. The phrase "New York 1982"(the superimposed title that starts the film) has itself become a code for a legendary time of heroic teenage exploits, a touchstone for successive generations of youth worldwide, many of whom can recite the film's dialogue by heart.

A DVD of this remarkable film can be ordered from Public Art Films is currently on a fund-raising mission to restore the original print, and to create a new high definition master which will preserve the record of the first painted trains to its original vivid colors.

+ Read more


Tribeca Film Festival 2003Edinburgh International Film Festival 2003Stockholm Film Festival 2003In-Edit Film Festival 2003Backjumps n the Live Issue (Berlin) 2003Bergen International Film Festival Norway 2003Black Soil Film Festival Rotterdam 2003Sundance Film Festival, Grand PrizeNational Black Programming Consortium, Prized Pieces AwardMontreal Festival of Films in Art, Grand PrizeAmerican Film Festival, Blue RibbonAthens Film Festival, Grand PrizeChicago Film Festival, Silver HugoHouston International Film Festival, Silver AwardToronto Film FestivalPBS, Channel Four(UK), Learning Channel, plus Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Spain, etc.


For licensing, film rights and permissions, contact Henry Chalfant, Tony Silver, the distributor Public Art Films, or Folkstreams.

Film Details

  • Film by: Henry Chalfant, Tony Silver
  • Produced by: Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant
  • Cinematographer: Burleigh Wartes, James Szalapski & Jeffrey Wayman (additional cinematography)
  • Sound: Richard Patterson, Larry Scharf
  • Editor: Sam Pollard, Mary Alfieri (co-editor)
  • Other Credits: Coordinating producer: Linda Habib. Documentary still photography: Henry Chalfant, Martha Cooper. Supervising editor: Victor Kanefsky
  • Funding: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting; The National Endowment for the Arts; The New York Council for the Humanities; Channel Four Television Company Limited (UK); Henry Chalfant, Sr.; The William and Mary Greve Foundation; Owen M. Lopez, David B. & Laura L. Oliver; Elise R. Browne; K. Bradford & Anne Brown; John M. Marchi; Julie Frand
  • Original Format: Film: 16mm
  • ©1983, Public Art Films, Inc.
  • 1 hr 9 mins, Color
  • Categories:
    African American CultureArts & Crafts, TraditionalChildrenDanceMusicPlayUrban Life