Monday, 9 March 2009

NO, NOW, NEVER: RADICAL NEW YORK CINEMA

5 February 2008

BORN IN FLAMES (dir. Lizzie Borden, 1983), 80 minutes

“The right to violence is like the right to pee: you’ve gotta have the right place and the right time.” One of the headiest, most fiercely out-there independent films of the 1980s, BORN IN FLAMES is an unclassifiable mash-up of science fiction, post-No Wave docudrama and exercise in radical dialectics. Set ten years after the Social Democratic War of Liberation, it depicts a tumbledown, self-proclaimedly Socialist New York in which competing groups of women, when they’re not pedaling across the city on their bicycles in order to attack macho idiots and discontented hard-hats hitting on their sisters, fight for a braver, more combatively feminist new order.

BORN IN FLAMES is a seething, combustible and strangely joyous time capsule of a film, populated by black separatists, vigilante groups and brusque FBI agents, that was inspired in part by the Italian free-radio movement of the 1970s and 1980. It features a range of downtown luminaries - Adele Bertei (The Contortions, The Bloods), Kathryn Bigelow and, in his first screen appearance, Eric Bogosian – and is accompanied by a terrific soundtrack of post punk, art rock and hip hop. A feminist classic, a piercing critique of the media structures that pervert and betray social reality, as well as a bulletin from the frontline of a still-raging set of ideological conflicts, its scene of the World Trade Center being bombed alone makes it an absolute must see.

The screening will be introduced by Asad Raza, writer and PhD candidate in the English department at NYU.

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