80 B

From the New York Times

In a Cult Bronx Film, Hints of Hip-Hop

By ANDREW BORYGA

In the summer of 1979, Gary Weis and six film crew members drove from Manhattan to the South Bronx every day for two weeks, a journey that each day left Mr. Weis in awe and despair.

“It was almost like going to a foreign country,” said Mr. Weis, 63. Bombed-out buildings, heaps of rubble and stripped cars; he compared it to postwar Dresden.

Mr. Weis, then a director of short films for “Saturday Night Live,” spent those days on the Grand Concourse, between 167th and 170th Streets, making a documentary film about two of the most ruthless gangs in the Bronx: the Savage Skulls and Savage Nomads.

The result, a 60-minute documentary titled “80 Blocks From Tiffany’s,” was intended to fill one of “SNL’s” weekly time slots on NBC, open every third week that summer. But it was never broadcast. Executives found it too controversial, and after a screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 1980 and a limited VHS release in 1985, the film was shelved.

Until now.

On Tuesday, “80 Blocks” will be rereleased on DVD by Five Day Weekend and Traffic Entertainment and distributed to major retail locations, giving the documentary what some people believe is its proper due.

“It’s a relic of culture that was hidden from us, and once all these people see it they’ll recognize just how important it is,” said David Hollander, a journalist for Wax Poetics magazine and a collector of films.

 

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~ by mollysurno on November 30, 2010.

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