Tagged: Cinema of Transgression

Tessa Hughes-Freeland at Millennium Film Workshop

Lest I be accused promoting only men filmmakers at the expense of women, allow me to inform you that Millennium Film Workshop will be screening a collection of films by Tessa Hughes-Freeland, a filmmaker closely associated with the Cinema of Transgression.

The Cinema of Transgression was a 1980s film movement that documented the underground arts and culture scenes of New York City. The movement disavowed the production style and principles of the commercial cinema. Some of the films are not for the faint of heart.

The following Hughes-Freeland films are scheduled to screen:

  • Baby Doll, 1982, 3 mins
  • Hippie Home Movie, 2013 , 2 mins
  • Joker, 1983, 5 mins
  • Kind, 2013, 1 min
  • Rat Trap, 1986, 12 mins
  • Gift, 2010, 6 mins
  • Playboy Voodoo, 19991, 12 mins
  • Western Tests, 2011, 2 mins
  • Nymphomania, 1994, 9 mins
  • Instinct: Bitches Side, 2007, 13 mins

Of these, I’ve only seen Baby Doll and that was at least a decade ago. You can watch it as a low-quality video on YouTube, but it’s NSFW. However, as the video is about the working girls of the long-gone Baby Doll lounge in Tribeca, I guess it really depends on what you do for work, right?

Having vacated their old theater on East 4th Street in Manhattan, Millennium Film Workshop now holds their screenings in Bushwick, at the Brooklyn Fireproof, at 119 Ingraham Street.

Trivia Questions and the Most Obvious Answer

Further to yesterday’s post about Nick Zedd, where I called Zedd a “Cinema of Transgression icon,” it reminded me of one of my favorite strategies for playing trivia games, such as bar trivia or even Trivial Pursuit. Whenever you’re presented with a question about a very specific and obscure topic, try to select the most obvious answer.

For example:

Which “Yippie” was expelled as a sophomore from Classical High School in Worcester, Massachusetts after questioning the existence of God?

This question, in the course of the game, seems like a brain buster. But once you realize that the question isn’t about who got expelled from school and that it’s simply asking you to name a Yippie, you’re set. The most obvious answer is Abbie Hoffman, as he is the most famous Yippie and probably the only one you’ll ever need to know as part of your trivia experience.

Similarly, I was once in asked, “How many sexual mates do swans have in their lifetime?” I answered one because it was the smallest number. It turned out that I was right. Swans mate for life.

I mention these tips because, should anyone ever ask you the name of a “Cinema of Transgression” filmmaker, you can safely ignore any part of the question that follows “Cinema of Transgression” and confidently answer, “Nick Zedd!”

Unless it’s Beth B. Then forget everything I just told you.

Going Underground after the Underground Is Gone

Nick Zedd ends up on my radar again. Writing for Vice, Avi Davis profiles Cinema of Transgression icon Nick Zedd and traces Zedd’s career from New York underground celebrity to someone who found that the underground movement in New York was over and done. Determined to forge on, he moved to Mexico:

Zedd has deliberately spent his career on the fringe, creating films that few people can tolerate. So his bitterness about not making money was hard to understand. Was his move to Mexico the ultimate rejection of New York’s yuppification, or was it just a concession to poverty and middle age? Did he truly scorn friends who’d profited in the internet age, or was he jealous of them? Was he well preserved or childish? Deep down, Zedd seemed to think that history had cheated him, and he wanted me to think so too.

In the article, Zedd appears to be making a personal comeback. He is getting by in Mexico, he has a family, he’s painting, and he’s planning to make films again.

Vice covers Nick Zedd, June 2014.png

I do have one issue with the article. The teaser headline on the Vice website bears the title, “A New Breed of Asshole.” It’s an unnecessarily mean-spirited bit of click bait.

Paintings and Films by Nick Zedd at Brooklyn Fire Proof Gallery

Nick Zedd, a seminal figure in a New York filmmaking movement he called “The Cinema of Transgression,” will be in Brooklyn’s Fire Proof Gallery for the opening of The Return of the End of New York: Paintings by Nick Zedd with works by John O’Grodnick. The opening reception is at the Brooklyn Fire Proof Gallery on Friday, April 25, 6:00 to 9:00 PM, and the show continues for one day only on April 26, noon to 6:00 PM, with a screening to start at 7:00 PM.

If you’re a film scholar and want to teach your students the films of Nick Zedd, please send them to this event because you might not be able to screen his films in class without someone asking for money. In 2012, Zedd, or someone claiming to be him, wrote me to ask that I pay him for screening some of his films in a class I taught in 2006.

Dear Sir,
I was flattered to see that my films were included in your course New York Independents.
I was wondering if I might be monetarily compensated for the screening of my work to the students.
Best Wishes,

Nick Zedd

This remains the only time a filmmaker ever asked me to pay for screening his or her films in class. That’s probaly because instructors are allowed to screen audiovisual works in face-to-face classroom teaching without securing public performance rights, and copyright holders asking for payment is a futile exercise.

But because his request was so courteous, I might go to the show this weekend after all.