Let Fury Have the Hour

Let Fury Have the Hour

Edwidge Danticat as seen in LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR, a film by Antonino D'Ambrosio. Picture courtesy of CAVU Pictures. All rights reserved.

Let Fury Have the Hour (2012)

Opened: 12/14/2012 Limited

Quad Cinema/NY12/14/2012 - 12/20/20127 days
NoHo 701/25/2013 - 01/31/20137 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Twitter, Facebook

Genre: Documentary

Rated: Unrated

What kind of world do you want to live in?


Rough, raw and unapologetically inspirational, LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR is a charged journey into the heart of the creative counter-culture in 2012. In a time of global challenges, big questions and by-the-numbers politics, this upbeat, outspoken film tracks the story of the artists, writers, thinkers and musicians who have gone underground to re-imagine the world -- honing in on equality, community and engaged creativity -- in exuberantly paradigm-busting ways.

Writer/director Antonino D'Ambrosio unites 50 powerful, of-the-moment voices --from street artist Shepard Fairey to rapper Chuck D to playwright Eve Ensler to musicians Tom Morello and Billy Bragg to novelist Edwidge Danticat to filmmaker John Sayles to comic Lewis Black -- who share personal and powerful tales of how they transformed anger and angst into provocative art and ideas. Mix-mastered with historical footage, animation and performances, D'Ambrosio presents a visceral portrait of a generation looking to re-jigger a system that has failed to address the most pressing problems of our times . . . or human potential.

The story begins in the 1980s with the rise of Reagan and Thatcher -- and a cultural shift towards fierce individualism and rampant consumerism. Coming of age in a world seemingly gone mad or at least gone shopping, some kids started searching for something more authentic. This was the start of a renegade movement D'Ambrosio calls "creative-response." It was a hybrid, haphazard collective of skateboarders, punk rockers, rappers, street poets, feminists and graffitists whose reaction to this brave new world was not to turn away, but to turn up the volume and have their say.

Now that generation is coming to the fore, sparking a global movement focused not just on pushing the boundaries with guitars, paint, dance, storytelling, graphics and subcultural style -- but on coming together around real reasons for hope.

Set to a stirring soundtrack from the film's artists -- including Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy, Billy Bragg, Gogol Bordello, MC5, DJ Spooky and Sean Hayes -- LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR is a fast and furious trip into the grass roots of art and activism, 21st Century style. The film is written and directed by author and visual artist Antonino D'Ambrosio in his feature debut. The producers are D'Ambrosio and James L. Reid and the executive producers are Jonathan Gray, Brian Devine, Rob McKay, Mark Urman and Chaz Zelus. The film features original music from composer and MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer. A CAVU Pictures release.

Director's Statement

I think our grand talent as human beings is that we can respond creatively to the challenges that life and society consistently place in front of us. Creative-response is rooted in the understanding that obstacles can become opportunities, and that old problems seen from a new perspective can lead to action, pushing society forward.

When I refer to creative-response, I am not just speaking of art but including every area of society and popular culture from public policy, economics, and education to science, architecture, and the environment. A person engaged in creative-response is someone who can invent a powerful new idea -- whether a melody, a poem, a political idea -- that changes how we think about and see the world. Moreover, creative-response is less a counter-narrative or alternative view, than it is a more accurate telling of our problems and how to respond--in an impactful, meaningful way--to those issues.

Creative-response is not an oppositional force. It is a proactive, forward-thinking movement. Ultimately, creative-response inspires us to aspire to become active participants in our society and the world around us.

-- Antonino D'Ambrosio

About the Film

What kind of world do you want to live in?

This question becomes an electrical spark in Antonino D'Ambrosio's LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR, setting off a series of blazing responses from some of the most inventive, fearless, outspoken and provocative thinkers, artists and activists of our times. As they share their ideas and ideals, their music and musings and, most of all, their positive, pro-active approach to our world right now -- in all its grand beauty, roiling uncertainty and unacceptable injustices -- LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR becomes a document of how passion of any kind turns into a powerful force that can unite us all.

D'Ambrosio dubs the action of that profound force "creative-response" and his deeply personal yet broadly uplifting film aspires to inspire people around the world to tap into it. While his subjects all engage with the world politically, culturally and socially in fierce and bold ways, if you dig beneath the surface, the common source of their impact is their creativity, says D'Ambrosio.

"LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR is not a political film," D'Ambrosio notes. "It is a film about our common humanity. Politics is something that is done to us. Art is something we do for the world -- and the whole idea of creative-response is that this is something we all do together. One person's creative work causes a response in others and it keeps going, creating a chain that is very alive and connected. The people seen in this film each make very strong, very individual statements about the way they see and respond to the world, but the thing they all have in common is the undeniable authenticity of speaking from the heart. That is what this film celebrates."

A Personal Journey

In LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR, D'Ambrosio stitches together the personalities and impassioned thoughts of 50 diverse iconoclasts of contemporary culture -- including Chuck D, Shepard Fairey, Lewis Black, Tom Morello, Ian MacKaye, Billy Bragg, Eve Ensler, Wayne Kramer, Hari Kunzru, Edwidge Danticat, Elizabeth Streb, Tommy Guerrero, and many more. But the film is equally his own personal story.

An acclaimed author and multi-media artist in his own right, D'Ambrosio's journey began in his own rough-hewn youth, when his simultaneous discovery of skateboarding and punk rock blew his then compacted world wide open. He'd grown up in a tight-knit, working-class Philly neighborhood, the son of an Italian bricklayer -- and a first-generation American often struck by the disconnect between the humble dreams of his parents and the reality of a culture around him increasingly focused on consumption and individualism. Surrounded by people who seemed to have been left out of the prosperous American vision -- people with important stories to tell and fervent ideas to share -- he felt a rising fury, along with a growing belief that something better was possible.

That fuel met the fire when D'Ambrosio began discovering the links between art, music and a skate culture that was about literally transforming the streets into something more accessible and exhilaratingly beautiful. That's also when he discovered there were other people -- people all around the world -- diving into a way of being that draws no distinction between art and life. They weren't just punks and skaters but also writers, painters, poets, singers, songwriters, rappers, acrobats, dancers, even professors, scientists and political activists. He never looked back.

"I was discovering art, skateboarding and punk rock all at the same time," he recalls. "As an immigrant kid and a bricklayer's son, it opened up a completely new world for me. It was the Reagan 80s and it seemed at the time, that consumerism was replacing compassion. People were being told that being compassionate and caring about others was a sign of weakness. But what I discovered in punk and skate culture was a world that was about being human, about embracing the full messiness of life. There was a real sense of honest truth to this world. And the most important thing to me was that it was all about freedom of expression -- expressing yourself in a community of other people expressing themselves. That felt very powerful."

Inspired, D'Ambrosio took his own leap into words and images. He would go on to write for numerous major publications, author several books (including the acclaimed A Heartbeat and a Guitar: Johnny Cash and the Making of Bitter Tears) and produce more than 15 documentaries, films, videos and visual art pieces. He then started a project about a man who had deeply influenced his own life and work: the complex and mesmerizingly humane frontman of the seminal British punk band The Clash, aka "The Only Band That Matters," Joe Strummer. But just a few months after D'Ambrosio met Strummer, who was in the midst of his own mid-life transformation after leaving The Clash, he tragically died of an undiagnosed heart defect.

Still roused by Strummer's extraordinary life and life's work, D'Ambrosio published his first edition of Let Fury Have The Hour: The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer, a collection of essays not just about Strummer but about the way his art, music and spirit reverberated through many other artists, musicians and cultural influencers from a vast variety of fields. (The new edition of the book Let Fury Have The Hour: Joe Strummer, Punk and the Movement that Shook the World will be released in conjunction with the film.)

To D'Ambrosio, this was creative-response in action -- and the more D'Ambrosio experienced it with so many fascinating collaborators the more he felt this larger story needed to be told. At the urging of actor, filmmaker and friend Tim Robbins, he began to explore making a film as an offshoot from the success of the book. But what had begun with Joe Strummer had now expanded into realms far beyond the expected. And what had started for D'Ambrosio in the 1980s was emerging as a movement in 2012, as the whole world was rocked by demonstrations championing the democratic impulses of a generation willing to put themselves on the line for fairness and freedom.

So D'Ambrosio started making a list of some of his favorite "creative-responders," which led in turn to more than 50 free-form, open-ended, intensive interviews that became the foundation of his film. He would later overlay the interviews with a hand-stitched, kaleidoscopic collage that turned the film into a visual and visceral adventure. But the web of voices remained the soul of the enterprise.

"Artists started reaching out to me as I was writing the book and after the book came out; and suddenly, I was collaborating with people like Wayne Kramer, John Sayles, Tom Morello -- people who had a lot of influence on my life," D'Ambrosio recalls. "They were all really interested in this idea of creative-response. And what I found when I started talking to them on camera is that they had all talked about their work in interviews before but they had never had a chance to talk about this idea of how they creatively respond to the world and what that means to them," he says. "I found that they were not only excited to talk about it -- they were moved by talking about. Some people even shed tears during our interviews. And they told so many amazing stories that I felt they needed to be collected in some very accessible way. That was the basis for the film."

He goes on: "The further I went, the broader it became, because creative-response is not just something that artists do -- it's something that scientists do, that philosophers do, that thinkers in every sphere of political and social life do. Creative-response is reflective of the whole breadth of the human spirit."

A Quick Guide To Some Of The 50 Voices In The Film

Lewis Black: Globally acclaimed stand-up comic instantly recognizable for his cathartic, passionately pissed-off style and incisive, topical wit.

Billy Bragg: British singer/songwriter who fused folk, punk and personal-storytelling to become one of the most popular artists of the last two decades.

Staceyann Chin: Spoken-word artist, performer, poet and LGBT rights activist widely known as a co-writer and performer in the Tony Award-winning "Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam."

Chuck D: Rapper, author and founder of pioneering rap group Public Enemy, who brought hip-hop to the fore as music with a message.

Edwidge Danticat: Award-winning novelist who draws on her Haitian-American background to write about themes swirling through our times: emigration, culture, gender and the entwining of past, present and future.

Stephen Duncombe: Professor of history at NYU, who thinks and writes about media, culture and their intersection with politics.

Eve Ensler: Tony Award-winning playwright, performer and activist renown for her long-running play "The Vagina Monologues" and her growing V-Day Global Movement to End Violence Against Women.

Shepard Fairey: One of the most popular and influential street artists of our times, known for his provocative artworks, grass-roots posters and resisting all categorization.

Tommy Guerrero: San Francisco skateboard legend -- and member of the Bones Brigade skate team in the 1980s -- turned recording artist with a slew of critically acclaimed albums.

Suheir Hammad: Palestinian-American poet and political activist who came to the fore with her bracingly honest spoken word performances on Def Poetry Jam.

Sean Hayes: Indie singer/songwriter known for his raw, earthy style.

Eugene Hutz: Ukrainian-born front man of the critically acclaimed gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello.

Van Jones: Pioneer in clean energy and human rights, champion of the middle class, founder of nonprofits focused on people-powered innovation, author and former adviser to the Obama administration.

Wayne Kramer: Co-founder of the seminal Detroit rock band MC5, which continues to be a major influence on current music, and ranked as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

Hari Kunzru: British novelist and journalist, known for daring works of fiction exploring themes of today's globalized world.

Ian MacKaye: Founder of the influential hard-core band Minor Threat, the self-managed bands Fugazi and The Evens, a duo with Amy Farina that performs in non-traditional spaces.

El Meswy: Brooklyn-based, Spanish-born hip-hop artist who is part of the rapidly growing Spanish hip-hop scene and known for his raw storytelling style.

Tom Morello: One of today's most outspoken musicians who has made an indelible mark on current music in such bands as Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave and The Nightwatchman.

John Sayles: Indie film writer, director and most of all, storyteller, who has made a diverse roster of iconoclastic, unexpected and socially complex movies that chronicle American life.

D.J. Spooky: Hip-hop musician, turntablist, producer, author, professor, philosopher and artist; currently Resident Artist at the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

Elizabeth Streb: Sought-after contemporary choreographer and "Genius grant" recipient, who mesmerizes audiences with her fierce, acrobatic, perspective-challenging works.

Richard D. Wolff: Professor of Economics known for his innovative ideas about class and capitalist crises.