[Five Deadly Everythings]

RIP Tony Silver

Posted in hip-hop, movies, obits by Jef on February 4, 2008

Filmmaker Tony Silver passed away over the weekend. He had long been suffering from a brain condition.

Silver was the co-director (with Henry Chalfant) of Style Wars (1983), one of my personal all-time favourite films.

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of working as a programming director on a hip-hop film festival. Style Wars was our closing night gala and seeing the crowd turnout for that film was one of my proudest moments.

I won’t go so far as to say I knew or even met the man, but in our few email correspondances I geeked out knowing I was communicating with one of the legends of the culture. With Style Wars, Silver forever etched his name on the walls of hip-hop, and he did it with flourish. It was an honour to see his name pop up in my inbox.

I don’t know enough about his personal life to write a proper obit, but like the subjects he trained his lens on, Silver’s work does the talking for him. Here’s what I wrote in our festival program introduction:

…the hip-hop film scene is all encompassing, vibrant and vital. More than merely recounting the story of hip-hop, these films, through narrative and cinematic style, embody the verve of the hip-hop aesthetic: confrontational, reflective, visceral, and full of vision and imagination…

I wrote that about hip-hop films in general but it’s a good indication of how much I love Style Wars, which was, and is, my favourite of them all. I urge everyone to check it out, either again or for the first time. You won’t be disappointed.

Watch Style Wars
Buy your own copy of Style Wars

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2 Responses

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  1. noops said, on February 9, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Man I remember the first time I watched Wild Style, I could not stop laughing. it’s so corny!

    But Style Wars is actually very dope. I pulled out my copy when i heard about this, but I haven’t gotten around to actually watching it in that time.

    Have you seen the movie about Basquiat??

  2. Scene -- said, on February 10, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Aw man but Wild Style is corny in the best way possible. The battle on the courtyard is my favourite scene — where they line up and stare each other down and the girls in the background are doing “the fantastic, the fantastic, the fantastic is the romantic.”

    And Basquiat, yeah. I need to re-watch though because at the time I watched it I really had no idea who Basquiat was so I might get more out of it now.


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