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
Exceptional documentary, but this is because of the film, culture & music subject matter and those involved during the late 70s/early 80s rather than talents behind the camera. Derivative way of showing us such a formless NY movement, but then again it no longer exists, so imitation would flounder. Nick Zedd is a dick. Beth B. and Lydia Lunch rock.