Synopsis by Mark Deming
While London may have been the first city in Great Britain where punk rock took root in the 1970s, in many ways the smaller and less fashionable town of Manchester was where it had the greatest impact; in addition to providing the Sex Pistols with their first receptive audience outside their hometown, Manchester spawned the Buzzcocks, one of the U.K.'s most popular and influential punk bands, and the freedom and creative possibilities of punk opened new vistas for Mancunian musicians and artists. Tony Wilson was a television newsreader in Manchester with a taste for rock and art that crossed traditional boundaries, and in 1978 he helped launch a nightclub in Manchester, The Factory, to provide a venue for new and noteworthy bands. Eventually the club's success led to the formation of a record label, Factory Records, and the label helped spawn some of the most important acts in the U.K.'s arty post-punk music scene -- Joy Division, New Order, A Certain Ratio, Section 25, the Durutti Column, Cabaret Voltaire, and many more. Shadowplayers is a documentary in which participants and spectators in the Manchester/Factory Records scene discuss the rise, fall, and legacy of this groundbreaking era in British pop music. Interview subjects include Tony Wilson, Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order, Howard Devoto of Magazine and Buzzcocks, Simon Topping and Martin Moscrop of A Certain Ratio, Vini Reilly of the Durutti Column, Larry Cassidy and Vincent Cassidy of Section 25, Jaz Colman of Killing Joke, designer Peter Saville, and many more.