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The Grime and the Glamour

NYC 1976–90

Debbie Harry at CBGBs

Films about the wild days and nights of New York's coolest era 

New York in the 1970s and 1980s was a place of poverty, uncertainty… and total artistic freedom. This film season lays out a view of a moment of significant historical change and creative energy.

The effect of the city’s economic decline on the the urban environment can be glimpsed in the background of these films: in the litter-strewn streets and decaying buildings. But this is also a city on the verge of gentrification – poised between desolation and rebuilding. Some films are set in the world of the bohemian bourgeoisie on the margins of Manhattan, and indeed, emerged out of it: the creative community of the East Village in this period included filmmakers such as – Bette Gordon, Susan Seidelman, Charlie Ahearn and Jim Jarmusch – are represented in the season.

These films show a city that’s degraded, for sure, but exciting, vibrant, and yes – especially when viewed in retrospect, from a blandly gentrified 2017 – almost impossibly glamorous. 

*Excludes £1.50 booking fee



Barbican Cinemas