DIFF 2017: Day 11

Bomb City tells the true story of Brian Deneke who was viciously killed during a brawl between punk rockers and high school jocks in Amarillo, Texas in 1997. The narrative film explores the often misunderstood punk scene and how Brian was a relatively normal 17-year-old underneath what most people consider to be the vulgar and scary appearance of punks. We witness his genuine love for his “normal” parents and that the people he hangs out with are his friends that understand each other’s lifestyles. As a large fight breaks out with an group of bullying, predominantly wealthy football players, one of the jocks goes out of his way to run over and kill Brian who is running away from the vehicle. The murderer who goes by a different name in the movie, Dustin Camp is tried for murder but is eventually acquitted and charged with voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to ten years probation and a $10,000 fine which would be overturned later. The killing and trial made national headlines and divided the generally conservative town of Amarillo for years. The movie powerfully shows that people should not be judged by their outward appearance and that the justice system is sometimes flawed in favor of people who act “normal” and detrimental to widely misunderstood subcultures, particularly punk rockers.

Patti Cake$ is a dramatic indie film filled with funny and endearing moments about a young overweight woman named Patricia, a.k.a. Killa P or Patti Cake$, living in working-class New Jersey with the lifelong dream of becoming a rap star. Her depressed and lonely mother who also once had a promising music career discourages her from pursuing a career that she says is only for black people, but her ailing grandmother and Middle Eastern American best friend, both characters that provide great comic relief, help her to create a rap demo. Eventually, she runs into a self-proclaimed black anarchist living in a shed by himself and has the recording equipment necessary for Patricia to record a few songs under the group name PBNJ with her best friend who also wants to become a rapper. Throughout the movie, she is looking for a break from having to work several jobs, including as a bartender and caterer, to support her mother and sick grandmother. At one point, she does get discouraged after being rejected by her black rap idol, but over time she receives the chance of a lifetime to participate in a rap contest held in Newark. Because of its infectious charm and creativity, the film was unsurprisingly a breakout success at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, especially for the main actress Danielle Macdonald who is actually from Australia and has never rapped before in her life.

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