Directed by French newcomer Celine Danhier, BLANK CITY captures the idiosyncratic, explosive energy of the “No Wave Cinema” and “Cinema of Transgression” movements. Stark and provocative, the films drew name and inspiration from the French New Wave, as well as Film Noir, and the works of Andy Warhol and John Waters. Filmmakers such as Jim Jarmusch, Eric Mitchell, Beth B, Charlie Ahearn, Lizzie Borden and Amos Poe showcased the city’s vibrant grit, and bore witness to the rising East Village art and rock scenes and the birth of hip hop. Short, long, color or black-and-white, their stripped-down films portrayed themes of alienation and dissonance with a raw and genuine spirit, at times with deadpan humor or blurring lines between fiction and reality. From Amos Poe’s enigmatic The FOREIGNER to James Nares’ comedic ROME 78 to Beth B & Scott B’s political BLACK BOX — the No Wave Movement was as varied as it was lively.
Time Out calls BLANK CITY a “who’s who primer” for the last 30 years of Downtown culture. Danhier crafts an oral history of No Wave Cinema and the Cinema of Transgression through compelling interviews with the luminaries who began it all. Featured players include acclaimed directors Jim Jarmusch and John Waters, actor-writer-director triple threat Steve Buscemi, Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Hip Hop legend Fab 5 Freddy, and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Fittingly, the punk rock that galvanized the scene is now the soundtrack to BLANK CITY: Patti Smith, Television, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, The Contortions, The Bush Tetras, and Sonic Youth.