BLANK CITY is an "absorbing snapshot of a daring time" (LA Times) when a disparate crew of renegade filmmakers emerged from an economically bankrupt and dangerous moment in New York history. From the late 1970's through the mid 80's, when the East Village was still a wasteland of cheap rent and cheap drugs, these directors created bold works that would go on to profoundly influence the development of independent film as we know it today.
Made on DIY shoestring budgets with the pioneering musicians, visual artists, performers, and derelicts that ruled Downtown, the films surveyed in BLANK CITY are fitting documents of an exhilarating cultural landscape. Director Céline Danhier weaves together an oral history of the "No Wave Cinema" and "Cinema of Transgression" movements, through compelling interviews with the luminaries who began it all. Featured players include acclaimed directors Jim Jarmusch and John Waters, actor-writer-director Steve Buscemi, Blondie's Debbie Harry, hip-hop legend Fab 5 Freddy, and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.
Crafted with rare extraordinary footage and first-person testimony, BLANK CITY is a poetic love letter to New York and its artists, an intimate portrait conjuring "a glorious and grungy bygone past." (NY Times)
"BLANK CITY provides a vivid, vicarious tour..." - A.O. Scott, The New York Times
"[A] passionate chronicle of cinematic rebellion... A smoldering and riotous work about a time when art seemed dangerous..." - Film Journal
"Above and beyond the juicy interest of the vibrantly sordid, flailing-but-thriving rock-and-cinema "No Wave" scene from a bygone NYC that it chronicles, Céline Danhier's Blank City is simply excellent documentary filmmaking; Danhier has done the research and pounded the pavement to gather the raw materials, then spent what appears to be considerable time and effort coalescing it into a streamlined but conscientious whole. The film is the best kind of labor of love, a passion project whose passion never overrides its rigorous dedication to doing justice to its subject. It's also a wild, sometimes actually disconcerting trip back into perhaps the last pre-Manhattan-gentrification, pre-Internet vestige of truly rebellious punk-rock/art-world hybridization, and even those with only a passing interest in the scene itself will find much to marvel at and be absorbed, enlightened, and entertained by here. Highly Recommended. - DVD Talk
Fab 5 Freddy
Directed by Céline Danhier
Produced by Aviva Wishnow and Vanessa Roworth
Composed by Ecce Homo