Bridging Punk and Activism: Explore Positive Force DC in the More than a Witness doc at Underground Arts - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Fugazi performs at Sylvan Theater | Photo by Pat Graham | courtesy of filmmakers

The 80s were arguably the point where American punk rock evolved from an outlet for aggression to a source of social activism. This can be largely traced to Positive Force, a DC-based organization founded in 1985 that uses music as a means to shine a light on progressive causes – broadly standing up against institutional racism, sexism, homophobia and violence (among other things) and more specifically using benefit gigs to support community organizations in the DC area and beyond, from local education nonprofits to the ACLU.

The group’s mantra is “Revolution can start now with each of us – be more than a witness.” This is where a new documentary on Positive Force takes its title from.

More than a Witness screens this Thursday, February 25th, at Underground Arts. Directed by Robin Bell, the film mixes archival performance footage of bands in the politically-charged DC scene that gave birth to the collective – Bad Brains, Nation of Ulysses, Rites of Spring. Fugazi and more – with spotlights Positive Force’s founders and supporters, many of whom saw themselves as more than just musicians, but fiercely engaged community leaders.

Covering a span of 30 years and featuring interviews with Jenny Toomey, Ian MacKaye, Dave Grohl, Ted Leo, Kathleen Hanna and more, More than a Witness screens this Thursday night at 9 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Bell and panelists Kristin Thomson of Tsunami and Katy Otto (of Philly’s Trophy Wife and Callowhill, formerly of DC’s Del Cielo).

The 21+ event is $10, more info can be found at its Facebook event page.

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