USA – 2010 – 94 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH
A FILM BY CELINE DANHIER
FEATURING JIM JARMUSCH, DEBBIE HARRY, STEVE BUSCEMI, JOHN LURIE, FAB 5 FREDDY, THURSTON MOORE
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 1970's and mid 80's, 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.
Made on shoestring budgets in collaboration with the pioneering musicians, visual artists, performers, and derelicts that ruled Downtown, the films surveyed in BLANK CITY are fitting documents of an exhilarating and unique cultural moment. This same legendary-but-fleeting period likewise birthed punk rock, hip-hop and Madonna, and brought New York City to the forefront of the international art world. Unlike those noted luminaries, this era's underground film movement has never before been chronicled.
BLANK CITY is a love letter to New York, a cultural portrait of Manhattan in the days before Reagan, big money, and gentrification forever altered the fabric of the city. Though a look back, the heart of BLANK CITY does not live in the past. In this new age of digital democracy, the maverick spirit of the New York Underground has risen again in emerging creative communities worldwide. The Do-It-Yourself ethos, audacious storytelling, and sense of urgency guiding "No Wave" and the "Cinema of Transgression" are more relevant and inspiring than ever.
"BLANK CITY proves, the all-night, every-night party was fun while it lasted."
- THE GLOBE AND MAIL
"...the dangerous energy of New York City in the late 70s and early 80s, when social and cultural conditions combined to create a perfect storm of punk-rock creativity"
- NOW MAGAZINE
"...there’s still something moving in the passionate testimonies of these aged hell-raisers: They haven’t outgrown their nihilism, even if they have made it out the other side."
- THE GRID
"BLANK CITY is a love-in for anyone enamoured by film, art and the early careers of today's great independent filmmakers. But its greatest character is New York City, and its transformation from a bohemia birthing artistic movements of all kinds, to a saturated stomping ground for celebrities and bankers. Paired with the engrossing visuals of No Wave and the Cinema of Transgression, Blank City astutely captures a cultural moment in time."
- THE NATIONAL POST
"...great arty eye candy"
- TORONTO SUN
"BLANK CITY proves a highly engaging eulogy to one of American independent cinema’s scuzziest, richest, and out-and-out coolest non-wave."
"The film is brilliantly edited, cutting between interviews, clips from the films, and archival footage of clubs and parties. The aesthetics reflect the strange world she is examining. Danhier finds a connection between the No Wave revolution and today’s increasingly accessibility of technology and broadcasting."
- DORK SHELF
"...a really solid history lesson in the cinema of the streets."
- CRITICIZE THIS!
"That ’80s Moment When Nothing and (Almost) Everything Mattered"
- THE NEW YORK TIMES
"A nostalgic look at the underground filmmaking that emerged from the roach-infested New York of the late ’70s and early ’80s, a time of impoverished artists stealing equipment to make no-budget movies for punk clubs and art spaces. Not many of the films hold up other than a few crossover arthouse hits like Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise, but that doesn’t really matter. This documentary is more about capturing the spirit of a generation determined to express themselves and make a mark for at least a few minutes."
BLANK CITY goes to the Mascara and Popcorn Film Festival
- MONTREAL MIRROR