In the past week hip-hop lost one of its greatest historians when Tony Silver
, the director of landmark 1983 graffiti hip-hop film Style Wars
, died after losing to his ongoing battle with brain cancer. New York native Silver, who made the legendary documentary with producer Henry Chalfant,
lived in LA and is survived by his wife and two daughters and grandchild.
Beside Style Wars
, Silver had a fat portfolio that included award-winning work in theatrical and TV trailers, main titles and special effects. As a documentary director his credits include such films as Anita Ellis For the Record
, 30 Seconds At A Time
(about company response to employees who are victims of domestic violence), and Arisman Facing the Audience
(about illustrator Marshall Arisman). Additionally Silver lectured at universities around the US and served on panels at the NEA,
, and at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But it is for Style Wars
that Tony Silver will always be best remembered.
The film, which just about any true die-hard graffiti artist can quote verbatim, remains not just a classic among hip-hop/graffiti fans but is also recognized by educators and critics the world over as the most important film to capture the original spirit and vitality of hip-hop's element of graffiti which emerged from from the gritty streets and subways of New York City and later (thanks in great part to this film) blossomed into global consciousness and appreciation. Style Wars
, which originally aired on PBS
, won the Grand Prize at the Sundance Film Festival
upon its original release.