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What are we fighting for? 

You can measure a generation's angst and outrage by the concerts it threw: Woodstock, Live Aid, Farm Aid, the Concert for Bangladesh.

But in our own recent history, instead of guitar feedback and angry yowling against poverty and war reverberating through the night air, there has been the sound of crickets.

Nowhere has the general apathy and fear at speaking out against American global policy been more measurable than in the deafening silence with which the youth culture has greeted the war on terrorism. Where, one wonders, is the outrage?

Confined to a small concert hall in Hollywood, apparently. On Mother's Day 2002, the Palace Theater hosted a concert dedicated to defying George Bush's war on terrorism. That one night of politically fueled music has been made into a film by former Atlantan David Zeiger (The Band, Senior Year) titled A Night of Ferocious Joy. Zeiger's film screens March 16 at Horizon Theater, along with spoken-word performances by Jessica Care Moore and Malik Salaam. The event, which marks the March 20 anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, is sponsored by the Atlanta chapters of Not in our Name and Refuse and Resist.

While performers such as Saul Williams, Blackalicious, Dilated Peoples and the Coup perform onstage in Ferocious Joy, a bevy of visual artists provides a montage of antiwar artworks projected onto a screen behind them. Sweat flies, bongos are beaten and rage mixes, as promised, with joy.

Ferocious Joy is often bogged down by too many moments of slightly garbled pontificating by the musicians and artists backstage, which evoke all-night undergrad consciousness-raising sessions. Though the earnestness of the participants makes up for lapses into extended navel-gazing, Zeiger places too much emphasis on these inarticulate backstage debates. Nevertheless, several of the performances stand out, including Blackalicious' righteous lyricizing and outrage with a beat you can dance to, and the equally intelligent fury of Jerry Quickley.

The concert itself has an ad hoc '60s feel of people more concerned with saying something than with the usual pyrotechnic stage show, a vibe matched by Zeiger's loosey-goosey camerawork, which captures the energy of the moment.

A Night of Ferocious Joy screens March 16 at 7 p.m. Horizon Theater, 1083 Austin Ave. $7. 404-239-8054. atlanta@refuseandresist.org.

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