“All My Films Have Had Very Strong, Powerful Women”: Legendary No Wave Filmmaker Beth B on Provocation, Censorship, and Working with Lydia Lunch

Legendary New York City no wave filmmaker Beth B was one of the leaders of the underground filmmaking movement during the late 1970s and early ‘80s. At the tail end of the punk movement, no wave brashly rejected the boundaries of art-making and confronted audiences with shocking, violent images and a lo-fi aesthetic. With only a shoestring budget, her collaborator/partner Scott B, the grimy environs, and a group of musically gifted friends at her side, Beth’s earliest films dismantled power structures — political, social, and sexual.

One of the few women working behind the camera at that time, her films also placed women front and center — from Sylvia Morales’ dominatrix who brings Bill Rice’s head of the New York City bomb squad to his knees in G Man, to sharp-tongued “torturer” Lydia Lunch in Black Box, a frightening allegory about the death of the individual.

Flavorwire spoke to Beth B about the no wave scene and her vital work just before a retrospective of her films at The Metrograph, which opens June 11 through June 13. A Beth B and Scott B retrospective will follow from June 14 through June 16. Also screening from June 10 through June 16 is Call Her Applebroog, Beth’s deeply personal portrait of her mother, the artist Ida Applebroog.