EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Director Celine Danhier talks 'Blank City'

Monday, 06 June 2011 16:20
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Director Celine Danhier's debut film, the documentary Blank City, opened in theaters on May 27th and depicts the punk rock and new wave film movement of New York City in the late '70s, which gave birth to independent film as we known it. Danhier had the opportunity to interview such film and music luminaries as John Waters, Jim Jarmusch, Jon Lurie, Steve Buscemi, Eric Mitchell, Lizzie Borden, Amos Poe, Fab 5 Freddy, and Deborah Harry. IAR's Managing Editor Jami Philbrick recently had a chance to sit down and chat with director Celine Danhier about making her new film, doing the research required, interviewing the participants, and tracking down the rare film clips needed for the documentary.

To watch our exclusive interview with Celine Danhier about Blank City, please click on the video player above.


Before there was HD there was Super 8. Before Independent film there was Underground Cinema. And before New York there was, well, New York. Once upon a pre-Facebook time, before creative communities became virtual and viral, cultural movements were firmly grounded in geography. And the undisputed center of American, some would say international, art and film was New York City. In particular, downtown Manhattan in the late 1970’s and 80’s was the anchor of vanguard filmmaking. Blank City tells the long-overdue tale of the motley crew of renegade filmmakers that emerged from an economically bankrupt and dangerous period of New York History. It’s a fascinating look at the way this misfit cinema used the deserted, bombed-out Lower East Side landscapes to craft daring works that would go on to profoundly influence Independent Film today. Unlike the much-celebrated punk music scene, this era’s thrilling and confrontational underground film movement has never before been chronicled. 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 Ahear, 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 blurring the lines between fiction and reality.

Blank City is in theaters now.

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