From Friday, July 17 through Thursday, August 27, BAMcinématek and Cinema Conservancy present Indie 80s, a sweeping survey of nearly 70 films from the rough-and-tumble early days of modern American independent cinema.
An aesthetic and political rebuke to the greed-is-good culture of bloated blockbusters and the trumped-up monoculture of Reagan-era America, Indie 80s showcases acclaimed works like Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise (1984—Jul 18), David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986—Aug 8), and Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies, and videotape (1989—Aug 14) alongside many lesser-known but equally accomplished works that struggled to find proper distribution in the era before studio classics divisions. Filmmakers
including Ross McElwee, William Lustig, Rob Nilsson, and more will appear in person to discuss their work.
The abundance of major works by filmmakers of color was a breakthrough of the 80s indie cinema—films like Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle (1987—Jul 17), which opens the series; Bill Gunn’s avant-garde soap opera Personal Problems (1980—Aug 24); the recently rediscovered Losing Ground (1982—Jul 25) and Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It (1986—Aug 23), both vivid portraits of intellectually and sexually liberated Black women; and, from the rich, UCLA-based “LA Rebellion” movement, the finely etched South Central slices of life, My Brother’s Wedding (1983—Aug 13), Ashes and Embers (1982—Aug 18), and Bless Their Little Hearts (1984—Aug 6).
Here’s a snippet from Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle:
Before The Artist came Charles Lane’s silent Chaplin tribute Sidewalk Stories (1989—Jul 19), and before Catch Me If You Can there was the audacious Sundance prizewinner Chameleon Street (1990—Aug 27), starring director Wendell B. Harris, Jr. as a (real-life) con man for whom impersonation was a means of flouting racism.