Three Star Review of Positive Force in Video Librarian

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

By T. Keogh
Video Librarian

Three stars

Back in the mid-1980s, a bunch of young musicians from the punk rock scene in Washington, D.C., decided to channel their frustrations about society and government—typically aired in loud, brash songs and raucous performances—into concerts action on behalf of the disenfranchised and vulnerable in America. Thus was born Positive Force, a social action coalition of regional bands who wanted to make a difference. This interesting documentary tells their story, now 30 years old and still going strong. While its graying founders remain committed to original principles, the organizations’s energy is constantly repoenished by newcomers to the D.C. music scene. The most interesting parts of director Robin Bell’s film look back on the founding of Positive Force in 1985, followed by the extraordinary decision of its loose-knit membership to buy a house and convert it into a headquarters (which still exists). The originators recall idealistic meetings with free agendas in which musicians hammered out priorities and rallied around plans for fundraisers and street demonstrations addressing the issues of homelessness, hunger, income inequality, Regan-era politics, and much else. Combining archival concert footage featuring bands including Bikini Kill, Fugazi, and Anti-Flag, with interviews with Dave Grohl and other who discuss their history with the collective, this should appeal to punk fans and socially conscious viewers. Extras include bonus live performances and archival documentary shorts. Recommended. Aud: C,P.

Back to Robin Bell’s Artist Page