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Penelope Spheeris on World Cafe

Filmmaker Penelope Spheeris on Her Groundbreaking Decline Of Western Civilization Trilogy


The 1980s in LA were a tumultuous time musically with a number of homegrown musical movements forming in reaction to the stale over-produced corporate music scene. Film maker Penelope Spheris was there to document these beginnings with a series of extraordinary films titled The Decline of Western Civilization. There were three in all in which she let the bands and the fans do the talking, the first, on the LA punk scene, came out to unanimous praise in 1979. Spheeris’ participant film making got inside the nascent scene with her camera at times seemingly diving off the stage in small venues. Her second film, released in 1988 was about the very different Sunset Strip metal scene. The third Decline film, 25 years after the first, was also about LA punks but with a very different generation and music. These films have been gathered together in a DVD box set in a project headed by Spheeris' daughter Anna who is also with us today. Spheeris tells us that if she could she would make nothing but documentaries and even hints that there is a fourth Decline film in the works.
Recent Release: The Decline of Western Civilization
Release Date: June 30, 2015

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