UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - 20th Anniversary of Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes w/ John Pierson in person + She's Gotta Have It

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his seminal film history book “Spike, Mike, Slackers, & Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema,” John Pierson, the guardian angel of the filmmakers Underground USA celebrates, joins us for the evening! An insider equal parts cinephile and savvy, Pierson helped launch the careers of many a young and broke filmmaker, championing talent in the raw—a promoter and financier in the best sense, who emerged as the premier historian of 80s independent film. Pierson’s talk will be followed by one of the films he helped bring to fruition, She’s Gotta Have It.

Spike Lee’s first joint, made for $20,000 and billed as “a seriously sexy comedy”, is one of the great debuts—goofily dialectical, casually inventive, and a cocksure promise of things to come. Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns), a defiantly polyamorous and fatally overconfident young “freak”, is juggling three men—a soulful monogamist (Redmond Hicks), a narcissistic stud (John Terrell), and Spike Lee (Spike Lee)—each of whom are urging her to make a choice. As the men desperately plea their case (to Nola and to the audience), the film becomes a Rashomon-tinged, near-Brechtian cross-examination of Nola’s failed attempt at polygamy. Here Lee emerges a fully-formed filmmaker (all those trademark stylistic flourishes are present, and he’s as funny as ever), and it’s all so buoyant and good-natured that it’s easy forget how radical it was. Spike at the time: “How often have you seen a black man and woman kiss on screen?”

Dir. Spike Lee, 1986, 35mm, 84 min.

Watch the trailer!