Two documentaries worth noting (among others) ...
Here's how "Blank City" is described in the Tribeca Film Festival program by Cara Cusumano:
New York City in the late 1970s. Underground filmmakers collaborated with experimental musicians and vanguard performance artists, all on a shoestring budget, to create the most daring work of their generation. In stark contrast to the poverty and crime that seemed rampant in the economically struggling city, a community of aggressive, confrontational, vibrant artists flourished: hole-in-the-wall screening rooms abounded, manifestos circulated, and Jim Jarmusch, Nick Zedd, and Amos Poe debuted early works to an audience of their peers. These short-lived but profoundly influential movements dubbed themselves "No Wave Cinema" and "Cinema of Transgression."
Director Celine Danhier brings energy and style to her encyclopedic documentary on the figures and history of this rich but gritty era. Blank City includes compelling interviews with such luminaries as Jarmusch, Zedd, Poe, John Waters, Steve Buscemi, Lydia Lunch, Lizzie Borden, Eric Mitchell, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Bette Gordon, Glenn O'Brien, John Lurie, and anyone who was anyone in the late-'70s East Village art scene. Ample film clips from seminal works bring to life a time and a place lost to gentrification and commercialization in the '80s, but that lives on in a still-thriving tradition of avant-garde art.
Then there's “Burning Down the House: The Story of CBGB" directed by 34-Mandy Stein. (She's the daughter of Sire Records honcho Seymour Stein.) You may read the description of it here.
Danhier and Stein are interviewed in this week's Downtown Express. Stein adheres to a familiar philosophy:
After CBGB’s closed, the space remained empty for a year before John Varvatos moved in with a men’s apparel shop in 2008. He preserved as much of the original club as possible, with walls covered in graffiti and flyers, and rock memorabilia all around. “Thank GOD for John it’s not a Duane Reade,” Stein says.
Meanwhile, Danhier, who grew up in Paris and first saw New York watching "After Hours," had this to say:
In Danhier’s view, the East Village today is, “Construction, construction, construction. It feels strange because a lot of the new constructions don’t seem to fit with the landscape. I do think it’s very tame now. That feeling of being on the edge of something is gone. But, then you find other parts of New York to go to — areas of Brooklyn or a new place in Manhattan will open up — and you’ll feel that energy once again. It just is always shifting around,” she says.
Tix for the festival go on sale Monday ... though downtown residents can buy their tix starting Sunday...(They went on sale for AmEx holders Tuesday...) The TFF runs April 22 through what seems like November. (OK, OK -- May 3)