Take me to the Blank City

As part of the Flatpack Festival The Birmingham International Film Society screened the 2010 documentary about the short lived but influential underground scene, No Wave. It explores filmmakers living in 70s New York when rent was cheap, drugs where accessible and there was a feeling of ‘anything goes.’. The movement righted the commercial elements of the New Wave genre which was popular at the time. It was an eclectic mix of filmmakers, abrasive musicians and artists. It was heavily influenced by funk, jazz, blues, avant garde and punk rock.

Director Céline Danhier showcases the filmmakers guerrilla tactics and drug-induced creativity, interviews with the prominent figures in the ‘No Wave Cinema’ movement narrate the film and give the audience an insight to what the filmmakers,artists and musicians have gone on to become.

Debbie Harry, Lydia Lunch, Micheal Oblowitz, Nick Zedd, Amos Poe, Fab 5 Freddy, Jim Jarmusch…are just a few of the big names that are part of the documentary. It really inspired me to look into the lives of these ‘DIY’ filmmakers. I think it was because they were part of a group of like minded creatives the content they produced was so amazing. They were able to bounce ideas off each other and weren’t afraid of taking it ‘too far’.

Nick Zedd’s work in particular stood out for me, his experimental films pushed the boundaries of what was accepted. His films have been shown around the world and have been banned, admired and inspired many.  His work includes ‘They Eat Scum’  and ‘Thrust In Me’. The latter was particularly shocking because Zedd played both of the necrophilic male lead and the suicidal female lead, the film depicts his two characters having sexual intercourse. It was incredibly controversial at the time and he was nearly arrested.

Nick Zedd worked with cult musician Lydia Lunch, who he dated for a while. During their break up he followed her to London and made a film about her ‘The Wild World of Lydia lunch.’ You can sense the musical influence in his and the rest of the movement’s films. The chaotic, underground music was often used as the soundtrack to their films.

Amos Poe’s work was also really inspiring. He co-directed one of the earliest punk films called ‘The Blank Generation.’ He is still part of the film making industry having recently written the screenplay for Amy Redford’s film ‘The Guitar.’ He manages to evoke strong emotions in his audiences and at the same time challenge them. I can’t wait to watch the whole of his feature film, ‘The foreigner’ and ‘Unmade beds.’

To be continued…

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