Blank City: Documentary About a Time When New York Had Artists

Celine Danhier's 2010 documentary covers a time in the late 1970s when New York was exploding with music and filmmaking energy. Young artists were unafraid to take to the streets without budgets. They were paying low rents and had a community to thrive within. Watching this makes one wonder what exactly New York is for today. It seems more corporate than creative. More trendy than artsy. I think the cops shoot people who don't have budgets now. That's if they aren't too lazy to strangle them to death. Where are young artists going now? Detroit? Newark? Or do they just decide to look down, keep walking and go buy a latte?



Carry That Weight: Super 8 Film by Andrea Nevi for Italian Tribute to the Beatles

Andrea Nevi of Italy directed this short film that is apparently a music video for a band called Mama’s Gan. The band has recorded a female tribute to the Beatles and this is their version of ‘Carry That Weight.’ I like it and I like the film a lot. I also like that beautiful face of the actress who is probably a member of the band. Incredible! I think I might fly to Italy to meet such a face. Every shot in this film is magnificent, but it’s that face around which the film pivots. I don’t think it is very easy to film a beautiful face. I know I always get very distracted whenever I try. I end up dropping my camera and forgetting all about what I’m doing.

Nevi’s film is a free-flowing beauty shot in Super 8. It won ‘Best Italian Film’ at the International Super 8 Film Festival 2011 in Milan, Italy.

Robert Frank Film of The Rolling Stones

It’s all very confused and mysterious. In 1972, the Rolling Stones hired photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank to make a film about their American tour. He made something wonderful called ‘Cocksucker Blues,’ which immediately angered the Stones because it actually showed them to be the ultra coolest and baddest band in the world. They sued him to keep the film out of circulation. Go figure. Why would you sue a guy for making the one absolute piece of evidence that you are what you say you are: ‘The greatest rock & roll band in the world?’ Well I don’t know the answer. Drugs and addled minds perhaps. This short film is actual footage taken by Frank on Super 8 cameras. It’s been edited by someone called Videodrumz on YouTube and put together with ‘Rocks Off’ from the ‘Exile on Main Street’ album. It’s good. It works. The footage is absolutely recognizable as Frank’s.

Greetings From Los Angeles 1978: Super 8 Film by George Porcari

George Pocari made this film of Los Angeles in 1978. It’s beautiful and it shows the things one sees every day without really noticing. Films like this one turn out to be incredibly valuable glimpses of the past. It’s funny how home movies end up getting closer to art films as they age. But this one actually started off as a kind of art film. It’s very well made.


Warhol and Maciunas: A Film by Jonas Mekas

This is a film by Jonas Mekas that features Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, John Lennon, and George Maciunas who founded the New York art movement known as Fluxus. The film shows a Whitney Museum art opening in 1971 and an artists’ party in New York. Home movies become an artform in Mekas’ hands.