Anthology Film Archives


February 24 – March 2

“I was politicized by feminism back in the day and wanted to stir things up; so too, for their own reasons, did Kathryn Bigelow, Sheila McLaughlin, Pat Murphy, and other women filmmakers in downtown New York in the late 1970s and 80s (such as Vivienne Dick and Bette Gordon). ‘No Wave’ cinema, as it is called now, was seen as the downtown aesthetic – a punk, nihilistic take on the French New Wave. But we weren’t part of that aesthetic. We weren’t nihilistic. We weren’t self-indulgent. On the contrary, Bigelow was concerned with exploring the semiotics of the image; McLaughlin, madness, role-playing, desire, and lesbian identity; Murphy, the objectification of women in relation to nationalism. They produced several important, non-nihilistic films that have been woefully under-screened in the U.S: Bigelow’s short THE SET-UP (1978), McLaughlin’s SHE MUST BE SEEING THINGS (1987), and Murphy’s MAEVE (1981). I am proud to present them here.

Downtown was a community where everyone collaborated on one another’s work. I knew all three before we became filmmakers – Sheila from the downtown theater scene, Kathryn and Pat from the art world. We all worked on each other’s films. In Kathryn’s THE SET-UP, two actors pound each other against my beat-up Lincoln, which I loaned the production. Kathryn provided a voice-over for my film REGROUPING (1976) and created her own, satirical ‘character’ – a Socialist news editor – for BORN IN FLAMES (1983). During my film’s long production, Pat flew to Belfast – an actual war zone – and made her landmark MAEVE, then returned to my pretend war zone and continued her essential, improvised role as another editor. Sheila appears everywhere in BORN IN FLAMES and helped vitally behind the scenes, while several performers from that film appear in her feature SHE MUST BE SEEING THINGS. I owe them all a great debt. MAEVE, THE SET UP, and SHE MUST BE SEEING THINGS are fascinating and crucial films in the redefined history of ‘No Wave’, expanding the idea of what was happening downtown.” –Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Borden will be here in person to present the Fri & Sat, Feb 24 & 25 screenings of SHE MUST BE SEEING THINGS and MAEVE, as well as the special screening of her own BORN IN FLAMES on Sat, Feb 25!

Special thanks to Lizzie Borden, Kathryn Bigelow, Sheila McLaughlin, Pat Murphy, Marc Mauceri (First Run Features), Sunniva O’Flynn (Irish Film Institute), and Katie Trainor (MoMA).

< Back to Series