CIFF Capsule Review – Blank City

Though Celine Danhier’s documentary certainly touches on the history of New York’s tumultuous punk and no-wave music scenes of the ’70s and early ’80s it’s more informative as a primer on the lesser-heralded activities of camera-wielding folks who would have a huge impact on American indie cinema in the years before Sundance sent Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino into the big leagues.

Jim Jarmusch Steve Buscemi Vincent Gallo and Deborah Harry are the most recognizable faces among the aging hipsters featured in new interviews. Clips from key films by Eric Mitchell Charlie Ahearn and Scott and Beth B. also help fill out Blank City ’s valuable history lesson which culminates in a survey of the Cinema of Transgression cycle of underground movies that made cinematic anti-heroes out of Nick Zedd Lydia Lunch and Richard Kern. Like much of what happened in the grittier patches of lower Manhattan back in the day this strain of artistic activity proved to be too weird and wild to be fully co-opted by the mainstream.