With freedom of expression once again under fire, Who´s Afraid of Kathy Acker? explores the unbelievably extreme life of punk icon Kathy Acker, whose sexually explicit writing expanded the limits of female self-expression but was also banned in many countries.
Kathy Acker, the outrageous punk icon banned in Germany but named in 2005 one of Americas original outlaw writers by the New York Times, lived life her life without boundaries. A friend of William Burroughs and Patti Smith, Acker was fascinatingly complex: A tattooed, foul-mouthed, Harley Davidson Rider who took opium & enjoyed sex with both men & women, she was also an intellectual who studied Classics at one of Americas top universities. Her celebrated novel, Blood & Guts in High School, which pioneered innovative sampling techniques, sold out within a week of its release. Proclaiming that There was no female language given me, Acker rejected her wealthy New York background to champion voices from the edge of society: the Bowery bums, crack whores, & blacks left behind by greed is good Reaganomics. Acker, the Mother of the Riot Grrls, became a myth through living life like one of her characters; inspired by the French libertine writers de Sade & Genet, she worked in sex shows on Times Square, dabbled in sadomasochistic sex & had her labia pierced high on coke. The heir to Burroughs, Acker rewrote the world in her own image, blending fact & fiction, biography & dream imagery, hardcore sex & incisive political satire in a non-narrative cyber-punk style. She stole heavily from classic fiction to rewrite the heroes as female, a transgender, appropriative method that drew both praise and criticism. Acker challenged societys ideal of femininity, daring to be tough & vulnerable at the same time. But she paid a high price for her nonconformity, suffering a double mastectomy in 1997 that she saw as a manifestation of her lifes struggle to be allowed to be who she was. Acker left behind a legacy of sixteen novels that cannot be ignored, but she learned the hard way that breaking the rules never comes cheap. (A. Standen-Raz)
Note di regia:
Over the three years I spent researching the life of the American post-punk cult author Kathy Acker, I became surprised that no film had yet been made on this uncompromising writer whose life & fiction became so blurred eventually the two were inseparable. From many interviews, the portrait of Kathy that emergedtattoos, piercings, Harley Davidson, bad languagewas of a rare individual unafraid to live like one of her characters, in a world where pulp fiction & the Classics, biography & pornography coexist.
I wanted Who´s Afraid of Kathy Acker? to be more than a simple portrait of a star, to go deep into the issues which Kathy Acker raised in her work: the freedom to write about female desire, violence and explicit sex, & the underlying politics of subordination that affect us all. Kathy didnt play a clichéd female role, nor care much for social niceties. But she was brutally honest, her most endearing traither incisively witty female heroines showed women with all their joyful power, vulnerabilities & wounds, which is basically our condition. (Barbara Caspar, Director)
Additional Informations: The film uses several layers to explore all sides of the contradictions of Acker as a woman, and of her work: Found footage covering Ackers entire life, from family pictures to BBC interviews; readings & performances of Kathy Acker spanning three decades; reenactments to bring characters of the books alive; interviews with young New York readers and the people who knew her best; and, last but not least, period documentary footage covering the Punk Scene, New York in the 70s and 80s, and other places of relevance to Ackers life.