BAMcinématek and Cinema Conservancy are teaming up to present Indie 80s, a survey of women-directed films from “the rough-and-tumble early days of modern American independent cinema” that they’re describing as “[a]n aesthetic and political rebuke to the greed-is-good culture of bloated blockbusters and the trumped-up monoculture of Reagan-era America.”
The program will feature 11 works from female filmmakers, including such diverse fare as Su Friedrich’s “The Ties That Bind,” an experimental film exploring the director’s mother’s memories of growing up in Nazi Germany, and Jessie Maple’s “Will,” the first independent feature helmed by an African-American woman in the post-civil rights era.
Indie 80s will take place from Friday, July 17 through Thursday, August 27 in Brooklyn, New York.
Find out more about the event here. See below for a complete list of women-directed films being screened. Descriptions are courtesy of BAMcinématek.
The Cosmic Eye (1986) – 71min
Directed by Faith Hubley. With Dizzy Gillespie, Maureen Stapleton, Linda Atkinson. The great Dizzy Gillespie guides viewers on a magical mystery tour of the Earth’s creation, its tribulations, and its wonders as seen through the eyes of alien travelers in this luminous phantasmagoria from animation visionary Faith Hubley. Her radiant imagery conjures a Chagall-meets-folk art universe, set to a score by jazz legend Benny Carter. Sun, Aug 16 at 2, 9:15pm
The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988) – 93min
Directed by Penelope Spheeris. The New York premiere of the new 2K digital restoration, The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years has been in demand for decades by fans worldwide. It’s a fast-paced look at the outrageous heavy metal scene of the late 80s. Set in Los Angeles, the film explores fascinating portraits of struggling musicians, fans, and star-struck groupies. This raucous and uproarious chapter features Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Poison, members of Aerosmith, Kiss, Motörhead, and performances by Megadeth, Faster Pussycat, Lizzy Borden, London, Odin, and Seduce. Party on, dude! DCP. Sat, Jul 18 at 4:30, 9:30pm
Losing Ground (1982) – 86min
Directed by Kathleen Collins. With Seret Scott, Bill Gunn, Duane Jones. One of the first films to explore relationships and sexuality from the perspective of a black female director, this revelatory comedic drama follows a philosophy professor (Scott) and her artist husband (Gunn) on a life-changing summer idyll in upstate New York. Rediscovered, restored, and finally released to much acclaim just this year, Losing Ground “feels like news, like a bulletin from a vital and as-yet-unexplored dimension of reality” (A. O. Scott, The New York Times). DCP. Sat, Jul 25at 2, 7pm
Paydirt (1981) – 95min
Directed by Penny Allen. With Lola Desmond, Eric Silverstein, Daniel Odell. Cash-strapped Oregon winemakers turn to growing pot in order to finance their vineyard in this low-key thriller. Unsung director and environmental activist Penny Allen (who gave Gus Van Sant his first film credit doing sound on her 1979 feature Property) directs this time capsule of 1980s-era Portland shot in an actual marijuana field. Digital. Wed, Aug 5 at 7pm
Sleepwalk (1986) – 78min
Directed by Sara Driver. With Suzanne Fletcher, Ann Magnuson, Dexter Lee. Sara Driver’s trancelike puzzle film is a surrealist’s delight in which a woman (Fletcher) translating an ancient Chinese scroll finds that the manuscript exerts a strange influence over her life. Strikingly shot by Jim Jarmusch, Sleepwalk “belongs on its own dreamy wavelength, offering its chiseled beauty, delicate textures, and disquieting wit to any spectator game enough to climb inside” (Jonathan Rosenbaum). HDCAM. Wed, Aug 26 at 7pm Q&A with Driver
Smooth Talk (1985) – 96min
Directed by Joyce Chopra. With Laura Dern, Treat Williams, Mary Kay Place. What starts as a seemingly routine coming-of-age drama reveals itself to be something darker and more frighteningly ambiguous as a 15-year-old girl (Dern), just beginning to explore her sexuality, has a life- altering encounter with a disturbing stranger (Williams). Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Smooth Talk was adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ famed short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?,” itself inspired by the notorious “Pied Piper of Tucson” murders. HDCAM. Thu, Jul 23 at 5, 7:30pm Q&A with Chopra
The Ties That Bind (1985) – 55min
Directed by Su Friedrich With the intimacy of a home movie, this poignant documentary from experimental filmmaker Su Friedrich records her mother’s recollections of growing up in Nazi Germany. Set against poetic black and white imagery—and the hand-scrawled reactions of the filmmaker scratched into the emulsion—the story she tells becomes a profoundly moving meditation on memory, history, and the mother-daughter bond. Digital. Tue, Aug 18 at 7pm
True Love (1989) – 104min
Directed by Nancy Savoca. With Annabella Sciorra, Ron Eldard, Aida Turturro. Marriage, Bronx style: Italian-American couple Michael (Eldard) and Donna (Sciorra) endure a rocky road to the altar—with plenty of interference from their colorful families—in this brash, raucous anti-romantic comedy. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 1989 Sundance Film Festival, True Love is hilarious and wise in its brutally honest depiction of not-quite-fairy-tale love. Wed, Aug 5 at 4:30, 9:30pm
Vortex (1982) – 90min
Directed by Beth B & Scott B. With James Russo, Lydia Lunch, Bill Rice. Noir meets No Wave in this paranoid punk thriller from New York downtown agitators Beth and Scott B. Attitudinal underground musician Lydia Lunch (Teenage Jesus and the Jerks) stars as a no-BS, leather- clad detective investigating the murder of a politician in a futuristic dystopia of corporate corruption. The Bs make the most of a miniscule budget with stylish visuals, hardboiled dialogue, and an unsettling soundtrack. 16mm. Mon, Aug 10 at 9:30pm
Will (1981) – 70min
Directed by Jessie Maple. With Obaka Adedunyo, Loretta Devine. This hard-hitting, slice-of-life urban drama is widely cited as the first independent feature directed by an African-American woman in the post-civil rights era. A heroin-addicted basketball coach (Adedunyo) and his wife (Emmy winner Devine) adopt a troubled 12-year-old homeless boy. Shot on 16mm on the streets of Harlem, director Jessie Maple’s unflinching look at struggle and resilience in the inner city—made on a budget of just $12,000—is ultimately hopeful. In Maple’s words, “No matter how low you are you can come back up. That’s what Will is. People can’t count themselves out that quick.” 16mm. Mon, Aug 3 at 7pm Q&A with Maple