New York City has always been an incubator of culture, so it comes to no surprise that several films presented at South by Southwest highlight NYC’s penchant for art and fashion. Two documentaries in particular showcase very opposite spectrum’s of New York’s entertainment world: Goodnight Brooklyn - The Story of Death by Audio, and The Incomparable Rose Hartman. Here’s why you should make it a point to watch both:
Goodnight Brooklyn - The Story of Death by Audio
Official synopsis: From 2005 to 2014 Death By Audio served as a venue for underground music, art and a non-traditional living environment. Founders: Oliver Ackermann, Edan Wilber and Matt Conboy, endure the challenges of hosting hundreds of people a night with looming threats of building department or police raids. Under ironic circumstances, we follow them through the last days as they navigate a billion dollar company moving into their building and the associated threats and intimidation to keep residents in fear of reprisals.
Though Goodnight Brooklyn - The Story of Death by Audio tells the story of a very specific venue and group of people, the film ultimately speaks on the issues of rapid gentrification in New York City - and really, everywhere else in the country. The fact that Vice Media - the purveyors of cool, curators of culture - was the company who bought out Death by Audio is ironic in the most compelling way. Vice had even published numerous articles praising the venue, as well as interviewing the founders for Noisey. You have to see Goodnight Brooklyn to believe it.
The Incomparable Rose Hartman
Official synopsis: You may not know her by name but you’ve seen her work. Starting with Studio 54 and moving forward into the New York celebrity fashion scene, Rose has photographed every major celebrity, fashion designer, artist, and socialite who has ever ventured out into the nightlife of NYC. Rose was one of the first photographers to capture the backstage environment of the fashion world and is known by the industry elite as the woman who takes a portrait that the subject would have taken themselves. The film follows Rose through her life of entrée as she put the lives of the glamorous and famous on film that serves as one of the few visual histories of NYC.
At first, The Incomparable Rose Hartman is hard to watch due to the obnoxious nature of its protagonist. But as the film progresses, you get to delve into backstory of Hartman - thus humanizing her along with showcasing some of the best photographs of pop culture from the last half century. Like its subject matter, Rose Hartman is stylishly made and is a welcome viewing for a number of interests ranging from fashion to history and, of course, New York City. Definitely check this film out.
The South by Southwest film festival runs through March 20. Stay tuned to iDigitalTimes for continuing coverage of SXSW 2016.