As the epicenter of Mexican-American culture in Los Angeles, East L.A. is known for a few things: tacos, pachucos, Chicano activism, and Cheech Marín, among others, but only those immersed in the world of music may realize that East Los also boasts one of the U.S.’ most raucous and notorious punk rock scenes, centered around the neighborhood’s suburban backyards. Luckily for the uninitiated, the new documentary Los Punks: We Are All We Have, takes a camera deep into the circle pits of East Los and South Central to give us an intimate window into L.A.’s overwhelmingly Latino punk scene.
As the film’s trailer suggests, many area youth come into the scene as a way to escape poverty or difficulty at home, but amidst the raw energy of the shows they also encounter an atmosphere where fights, stabbings, and even shootings are the norm. But that’s clearly not enough to deter the loyal punks profiled in this feature, who find meaning amidst the noise, chaos, and sonic destruction of this musically diverse scene.
Photographer-turned-director Angela Boatwright took a documentary series she created for Vans’ #OffTheWall campaign, titled East Los and expanded it into a feature-length production. The resulting film, Los Punks, follows a fairly traditional documentary style, focusing on interviews with a number of chosen subjects who speak to everything from the difficulty of their home lives to the unfavorable reactions to their lifestyles, and ultimately to the important role the punk scene has played in their lives. This is all mixed in with observational footage of shows, police raids, and domestic scenes, photographs, and plenty of loud, fast music.
Appropriately, Los Punks will be premiering at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival (sort of like the punk rock Sundance) in Park City, Utah. Check out the trailer and keep an eye out for a screening at a theater near you.
The Slamdance Film Festival runs January 22-28, 2016.
The New York premiere of Los Punks is during Rooftop Films on May 26 at 7pm. RSVP here for free tickets.