Style Wars (1983)

About the Film

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.


  • Tribeca Film Festival 2003
  • Edinburgh International Film Festival 2003
  • Stockholm Film Festival 2003
  • In-Edit Film Festival 2003
  • Backjumps n the Live Issue (Berlin) 2003
  • Bergen International Film Festival Norway 2003
  • Black Soil Film Festival Rotterdam 2003
  • Sundance Film Festival, Grand Prize
  • National Black Programming Consortium, Prized Pieces Award
  • Montreal Festival of Films in Art, Grand Prize
  • American Film Festival, Blue Ribbon
  • Athens Film Festival, Grand Prize
  • Chicago Film Festival, Silver Hugo
  • Houston International Film Festival, Silver Award
  • Toronto Film Festival
  • PBS, 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.