Before gentrification, 9/11, Bloomberg policies, and Metrocards, New York City in the late ‘60s to early ‘80s was faced with a crumbling economic system that propelled the five boroughs into chaos. With no viable prospects, no hope, or future, many of the barrio kids took to the streets, forming their own world where the law of the land was dealt with reckless swagger and brute force.
In his second documentary, titled Rubble Kings, director Shan Nicholson explores the counter culture of the inner city gang life, which would eventually give birth to hip-hop and raise social consciousness in the most unexpected of ways. It’s one of the most powerful and unforgettable releases from this year’s New York International Latino Film Festival.
From its earliest roots, gang life had always played a major role in urban living. What was once a purely aesthetic form of self expression and unity in the late ‘60s quickly became a strong social commentary on urban youth disillusionment in the ‘70s. Focusing primarily on the South Bronx, Rubble Kings paints a shockingly vivid portrait of life in the borough; one of burning buildings, crumbling neighborhoods, and violence in the midst of a rampant drug epidemic. Using archival news footage, rare photographs and a slammin’ soundtrack, Nicholson sets the stage where former gang members, activists, politicians, musicians, and scene makers talk about life back in the day.
Blending humor, wit, and street smarts, Rubble Kings offers the opportunity to see a part of our city’s history that most people remember yet few talk about. As a subject matter that is rarely examined by mainstream media, Nicholson does an amazing job of shedding light on a part of our culture that is both complex and uplifting, without glamorizing our violent past. Be sure to check out this gem of NYC history!