Cinema buffs rejoice: the Barbican has announced a double-header of programmes that’ll have those of us with Mubi subscriptions salivating into our Butterkist.
May sees the arrival of Bebop New York: Birth of the American Indie. Featuring a stash of films which focus on life in the bohemian art scenes of the city’s cultural life during the 50s and 60s, it showcases the work of directors who “demanded a cinema liberated from calcified professionalism, from Hollywood, from ‘the system’.”
John Cassavetes, Stan Brakhage, and the late, great Jonas Mekas all feature in the series, alongside an evening dedicated to the work of a trio of women directors – Marie Menken, Shirley Clarke and Storm de Hirsch.
“New York occupies a huge part of our cultural imagination – so it’s not surprising that so many films are set there, and that we are drawn to them as viewers,” says Tamara Anderson, who has programmed both series’.
Speaking exclusively to It’s Nice That, Tamara notes that the late-50s and early-60s, with the arrival of Bebop, the Beats, and the beginnings of Andy Warhol’s meteoric rise to blank-eyed superstardom, marks “one of the most exciting times ever in the city – one that these films let us relive, to a degree.”
Bebop New York will be followed by After the Wave: Young French Cinema in the 1970s, which as the name suggests is focused on the films that followed the filmic revolution that was La Nouvelle Vague.
A post-May ‘68 selection featuring masterpieces by Chantal Akerman and Catherine Breillat, it charts the immediate cinematic aftermath of a moment and a movement that Tamara describes as “a triumph of branding”, noting that ever since Truffaut, Godard, and the rest of the Cahiers du Cinéma picked up their cameras, we’ve been ever so keen on adding the “new wave” appendage to any emerging scene around the globe.
She goes on to tell It’s Nice That, “the new wave directors dominated their era, and cast a long shadow over subsequent decades, but that shouldn’t lead us to assume that the new wave is the peak of French art cinema. The films of the 70s generation are also brilliant, they’ve just been rather… overlooked.”
Hopefully After the Wave will act as a chance to restore the balance somewhat. The programme runs from 6 June to 25 July.