Positive Force: More Than a Witness on Stereo Killer

Positive Force: More Than a Witness: 30 Years of Punk Politics in Action

Stereo Killer

Actors: Mark Andersen, Fugazi, Anti-Flag, Bikini Kill, Nation of Ulysses, Seven Seconds

Synopsis: Examines 30 years of the DC-based Positive Force with performances from Fugazi, Anti-Flag, Bikini Kill and more.

Robin Bell brings us a documentary that looks at “the relationship between D.C. punk and do-gooderism. Seamlessly situating a musical moment within the larger cultural context of Reaganomics, the rise of riot grrrl feminism, pacifist protest and other issues.” Positive Force DC came into being in 1985 and was born as part of the local scene by Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and Rites of Spring, a handful of young activists. They drew inspiration from UK anarcho-punks Crass and the original “Positive Force” band and are now thought to be one of the most long-lasting and influential exponents of punk politics.

Director Bell skillfully mixes rare archival footage (including electrifying live performances from Fugazi, Bikini Kill, Rites of Spring, Nation of Ulysses, Anti-Flag, and more) with new interviews of key Positive Force activists including co-founder Mark Andersen (co-author of Dance of Days) and Jenny Toomey (Simple Machines, Tsunami) as well as supporters such as Ian MacKaye, Jello Biafra, Dave Grohl, Ted Leo, Riot Grrrl co-founders Allison Wolfe and Kathleen Hanna, and many more. The film covers thirty years from the origins in Reagan-era origins, the creation of its communal house, FBI harassment, and the rise of a vibrant underground that burst into the mainstream amid controversy over both the means and the ends of the movement. Positive Force has persisted through all of this, remaining deeply rooted in their hometown, reaching out to those in need and building bridges between diverse communities.

At the same PF regularly brings punk protest to the front doors of those in power. It is an all-volunteer group has helped to nurture several generations of activists. In the best punk fashion, PF has applied creative DIY tactics and radical critiques to issues of homelessness, hunger, racism, corporate globalization, sexism, homophobia, war, gentrification, and animal/earth liberation, while struggling to constructively address conflicting dynamics and visions within the group itself.

It is important to note that the filmmakers’ portion of the proceeds from the sale of the DVD will benefit the We Are Family senior outreach network.

The DVD includes the following extras:

Wake Up! A Profile of Positive Force (28 min., 1991)

Green Hair, Grey Hair (28 min., 2008)

Punks, Votes, Riots (21 min., 2014)

Live at Positive Force (34 min. of bonus performances by Fugazi, Seven Seconds, Chumbawamba, Anti-Flag, Soulside, The Evens, and Beefeater).

Back to Robin Bell’s Artist Page