UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Smithereens (w/ Susan Seidelman in person)

Co-presented by The Director List

Live Set by DJ Totally Abuse

Fresh out of NYU film school and governed by the unconventional spirit of her devil-may-care French New Wave predecessors, newcomer Susan Seidelman set out with the 16mm camera she purchased with what was meant to be her “future wedding” cash to capture the vibe of a specific time and place. The place is a bankrupted and corrupted New York City, replete with abandoned parking lots now home to downtrodden hookers and listless squatters. The time is the post-hippie, pre-yuppie early ‘80s, an era when the Xerox machine and a Polaroid camera are the most sophisticated tools to help your image go viral. And “going viral,” in a sense, is exactly the aim of Wren, the pugnacious, fishnet-clad leading lady of Seidelman’s debut feature, Smithereens. As Wren plasters the city with posters of her photocopied face in the hopes of being recognized, we witness how the allure of fame is often met with the harsh realities of a life of excess. Wren might be burning every bridge she’s ever crossed, but she never looks back to survey the ashes—because in this world, “everybody’s out to get what they can.” The gritty, at times brutally honest Smithereens was the first American indie to premiere at Cannes, firmly cementing the film—and its maker—among their contemporaries.

Dir. Susan Seidelman, 1982, HD Digital Presentation, 89 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!