The 2011 documentary “Blank City” from Insurgent Media was directed by Céline Danhier. Starring: Jim Jarmusch, Deborah Harry, Steve Buscemi, John Lurie, Fab 5 Freddy, Becky Johnston, Thurston Moore, Richard Kern, Lydia Lunch, Amos Poe, Casandra Stark, Eric Mitchell, James Nares, Maripol, Ann Magnuson, James Chance, Beth B, Daze, Scott B, John Waters, Bette Gordon and Charlie Ahearn.
Today New York City is known as the “Capital of the World” where high-priced real estate and fashionable people congregate. But a mere 30 years ago, it was a totally different scene; Times Square was the heart of slime and crime ruled the streets. The city was cheap and nasty and the lower east side of Manhattan became America’s landfill for poverty stricken artists and immigrants.
But New York City was also the place where independent film-making began with the help of the renegade fashion, music and art crew. The scene flourished under the influence of insane fads, drugs and feuds evolving into what it has become today; the center of the universe for independent art.
The Underground Cinema paved the way for High Definition and Super 8, along with everything that is known as Independent Film. During the late 1970s and 80s the area of lower Manhattan ruled as the capital of cutting edge film making. In an era before online communities like Facebook, the community was focused geographically and if you were an artist, New York City was THE place to be. Within this desolate landscape of the downtown area these artists brought color and life that resonated with their everyday reality.
In this documentary that tells the behind the scenes story of how the “No Wave Cinema” and “Cinema of Transgression” movements without any kind of funding, gained their intense energy and following that turned the cinematic world on its ear. The story of the rag-tag band of vagabond filmmakers that dominated this dangerous period of New York City’s history, that unlike the history of the punk music scene, has never been told; it chronicles the genius of Charlie Aheard, Amos Poe, Eric Mitchell, Jim Jarmusch and Beth B.
These artists tuned into Film Noir, the French New Wave, John Waters and Andy Warhol presenting the stark picture of the rising scene that gave birth to the hip-hop revolution. The films and those that created them were provocative; confrontational and relevant to the times where artists refused to go quietly into the night, instead they brought the reign of film art to where it is today.