Four Field Guides to BAM’s Massive “Indie 80s” Series

RIVER'S EDGE courtesy BAM/Photofest
RIVER’S EDGE courtesy BAM/Photofest

Presenting more than 60 films over six weeks from July 17-August 27, “Indie 80s,” at BAMcinématek, is the camp-out-in-front-of-the-building event of the summer. Today, it’s a given that filmmakers can come from anywhere, nurtured by local scenes before linking up at festivals in mid-sized cities; this series is a comprehensive survey of the first generation of American films to spring up following the rapid decentralization of the movie industry. It’s a stunningly diverse series, featuring early canonical works from now-household names alongside films that haven’t screened in NYC since their premieres; all are grounded in the regional, subcultural and ethnic specifics necessitated by humble (or improvisatory) means, and which would, by the end of the decade, lay the groundwork for the commercial exploitation of freshness and authenticity. In an effort to navigate the lineup, four of our film critics try to navigate the currents—philosophical, generic—which provide a route map to the new, weird, post-monoculture America.


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