New York in the late 70s: the arch, anti-establishment energy of CBGBs punk spreads like a virus through the East Village art scene, with hipsters as likely to pick up a cheap Super-8 camera as a guitar or saxophone. A number of eager collaborations between filmmakers, musicians and performance artists are spawned, and a scene tagged No Wave evolves, with the likes of Jim Jarmusch, Lizzie Borden and Susan Seidelman emerging from it. On into the 80s, and contempt for Reaganite conservatism inspires Nick Zedd’s Cinema of Transgression Manifesto, proposing, among other things, ‘to go beyond all limits set or prescribed by taste, morality or any other traditional value system shackling the minds of men’. The likes of Richard Kern, Lydia Lunch and Casandra Stark enthusiastically sign up. Celine Danhier’s authoritative, thorough account of post-punk underground filmmaking in NYC celebrates a time and place where there were no rules, and where artists were encouraged and supported by their peers, those peers being, essentially, their audience. Contributions from key players are numerous and fascinating, as are the clips from the seminal, hugely influential work they produced. —BFI
First half is as vapid as a DVD extra featurette, but the second half, on the cinema of transgression, is must see.
Excellent documentary on the NYC independent film/art/music movement of the late 70's and early 80's. You can feel the passion of these former unknowns, trying to put something on film no matter what cost and then push to get it seen by real audiences. Today we just film and drop it into a website.