Film: Too Many Creeps: New York Underground Film
dir. Céline Danhier, US, 2010, video, 94 mins, color
Blank City tells the long-overdue tale of a disparate crew of renegade filmmakers who emerged from an economically bankrupt and dangerous moment in New York history. In the late 1970s and mid-80s, when the city was still a wasteland of cheap rent and cheap drugs, these directors crafted daring works that would go on to profoundly influence the development of independent film as we know it today.
Directed by French newcomer Céline Danhier, Blank City weaves together an oral history of the “No Wave Cinema” and “Cinema of Transgression” movements through compelling interviews with the luminaries who began it all. Featured players include acclaimed directors Jim Jarmusch and John Waters, actor-writer-director Steve Buscemi, Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Hip Hop legend Fab 5 Freddy, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, photographer Richard Kern as well as Amos Poe, James Nares, Eric Mitchell, Susan Seidelman, Beth B, Scott B, Charlie Ahearn and Nick Zedd. Fittingly, the soundtrack includes Patti Smith, Television, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, The Contortions, The Bush Tetras, Sonic Youth and many more.
followed at 9pm by
The Early films of Vivienne Dick
Vivienne Dick’s arrival in 70s New York landed her in the middle of the punk era. Fresh from Ireland and having no experience of making films, she signed up for a course and took up residence on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, right in the middle of a cultural revolution.
dir. Vivienne Dick, US, 1978, 16mm, 24 mins, color
Using eight rolls of Kodak Super-8 film, Dick profiled women in real time and without any editing, including Pat Place and Adele Bertei, former band members of the Contortions, and punk doyenne Lydia Lunch. They talk, read letters, play pinball, while the camera zooms in and out using oblique framing. Each is captured on film in a “screen test” to which the camera is co-conspirator rather than voyeur, reacting as opposed to recording. Dick’s films use the ‘every-dayness’ of Super-8 with choppy hand-held shots and a home-movie style ethic, to explore the self-image and social politics of a diverse group of women in 1970s New York.
She Had Her Gun All Ready
dir. Vivienne Dick, US, 1978, 16mm, 28 mins, color
Vivienne Dick’s second film has at its center two of the subjects of Guerillere Talks. Moving from a kitchen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the film explores the dynamic between a complacent, almost catatonic Pat Place and the demonic, aggressive Lydia Lunch, ending with a showdown at the rollercoaster on Coney Island. The relationship between the two women is ambiguous, they may represent elements of a single identity or the influence of a stronger will over a weaker character. It is the dynamic between these two unequal forces which propels the narrative.
Beauty Becomes the Beast
dir. Vivienne Dick, US, 1979, 16mm, 40 mins, color
Using fragmented images of women and a central performance from Lydia Lunch as both a tormented five year old and a troubled teenager, the film looks at the mother and daughter relationship and examines the cyclical relationship between the two. The film cuts between images of women on TV, along with advertising on the street, a woman in her kitchen, as well as members of the punk scene. Images of patriarchal culture contrast with those of the sexually precocious ‘child-girl’, tormented by demons commanding her to ‘be dirty’, who oscillates between being a child crying for her mother and adopting a position of maternity in relation to her doll.