Margins: A film about skin and punk life in the Italian provinces

I dislike 99% of punk and skinhead movies – even the better ones usually only make me cringe. There are exceptions: I thought the US punks in the very watchable Green Room were authentic (the boneheads perhaps less so) and Russia 88 was both clever and funny. But Romper Stomper? Sid and Nancy? Farming? Give me a break.

For once, though, I didn’t have any objections to the way skins and punks were depicted in Margins (original title: Margini), the new movie by Niccolò Falsetti that’s out in Italian cinemas now and also seems to be doing the rounds at international festivals. Granted, the characters in Margins aren’t representative of skinheads or punks in general – they portray punks and skins in Italy, or more specifically in the provinces, and this they do very convincingly. Having only lived in Italy since 2020, I might miss some nuances, but the characters on screen talked, looked and acted very much like people I’ve encountered in real life in these past two years. Italy has its share of small dead-end towns where nothing ever seems to be happening for the one or two resident skins. But they have a car and a sleeping bag, and you meet them at every single gig within a 200-mile radius. They’re the kids that Margini is about.

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Steve Goodman: an early seventies skinhead in 1988 (video)

The clip below, taken from an 80s student movie, was kindly forwarded to us by the filmmaker himself with the promise that there’s “more to come”. It features an interview with an early 70s skinhead at the first International Ska Festival, which took place at the Brixton Fridge in 1988. The skinhead isn’t wholly unknown: Steve ‘Grogger’ Goodman, editor of the 80s skinzine Chargesheet, author of the subculture novel England Belongs to Me (1994) and writer of the film script Pressure Drop (which is apparently still for sale if you fancy making an OG skinhead movie).

He became a skinhead round about 1972, he says in the interview, which strikes me as an odd year to become a skinhead in London. The accepted narrative, after all, confirmed by countless original skins through the ages, is that the style began shifting towards suedehead by 1970 and then smoothie and bootboy in the following years. By 1972, the original skinhead look would have been seen as hopelessly outmoded by most Greater London kids, who were probably Bowie boys/girls by then.

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Golpe de Gracia: Ustela 12” EP

One thing I don’t like is when the small-scale music industry imitates the big music industry. It’s not the fact that people try to make some money to cover their expenses or pay their bills – that’s ok, we all need to live. The problem starts when everything becomes subordinated to ulterior ends. Oi bands from the continent that should be writing lyrics straight from the heart start to sing in bad English, hoping it will improve their chances of playing the festival circuit. Instead of expressing truthfully how they see the world in which they live, they rehash the most banal cliches they can think of: after all, if you leave it at commonplaces about ‘believing in yourself’ and ‘standing where others fall’ – basically the stuff that Mariah Carey songs are made of, but with gang vocals –, you won’t offend anybody.

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Daily Terror live in 1984 video

Someone posted this video on YouTube a couple of weeks ago, but since I can’t be sure that it will stay there, I added it to our own channel too. This is rough but, from my point of view, incredible footage that I’ve never seen before: Daily Terror live in Bingerbrück near Frankfurt in 1984 – so, about a year after Pedder Teumer’s transformation from punk to skinhead, and a few months before this line-up of the band split. As you can read in our Daily Terror band story, Pedder would go through a period of depression after the breakup, only to re-emerge with a new Daily Terror line-up the following year.

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