Written, produced, directed, and edited by Susan Seidelman in true student film fashion, Smithereens is the story of Wren (Susan Berman), an independent spirit from New Jersey trying to self-promote herself into the New York punk scene. She meets Paul (Brad Rijn), who ran away from Montana and lives out of his van in a parking lot. Paul seems to offer genuine friendship, however, Wren is only interested in forming meaningless relationships in hopes of bolstering her nonexistent career. She has no musical talents or industry skills, yet she aggressively pursues a pathetic spot for herself in places like the Peppermint Lounge. She drops Paul for Eric (Richard Hell, who also performs on the musical score), who has a record deal, and they work out a plan to escape to California, which requires Wren to pose as a prostitute in order to scam money from a prospective john. Things don’t work out, and Wren finds herself hitting one wall after another, eventually getting kicked out of her apartment. With no place to go, Wren seeks out everyone she knows in the city, only to find herself left alone.
American filmmaker Susan Seidelman majored in art and fashion design at Drexel University. She worked at an independent TV station in Philadelphia before enrolling at NYU’s film school. Her feminist-oriented student films, made between 1976 and 1977, won several awards and plenty of industry attention. Seidelman’s first feature, the independently produced Smithereens (1983), made very little headway in mainstream theaters, but was a hit on the festival circuit. On the strength of Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), Seidelman was lauded as one of Hollywood’s few “bankable” female directors; the film’s success was probably due more to the supporting performance of Madonna than to its director. Seidelman’s next two films, Making Mr Right (1987) and Cookie (1989), failed to match the standard set by Desperately Seeking Susan. In 1989’s She-Devil, Seidelman attempted to do for Roseanne Barr what she had done for Madonna — – that is, transform Roseanne into a viable film personality. But She… read more