In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a combination of factors – including low rents in abandoned neighborhoods, new and more affordable technology, a cross-pollination of media, and a punk-influenced DIY spirit – collided on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to create a scene, commonly known as “No-Wave,” that dominated music, visual art, and film. And, unique among American independent cinema movements, there were just as many women in downtown NYC making movies as men.

What was it about this scene that made it possible for women filmmakers to not only thrive, but dominate? To find out, we talked to three of them: Susan Seidelman (“Smithereens”), Bette Gordon (“Variety”), and Lizzie Borden (“Born in Flames”), as well as contemporary film and fashion writer Abbey Bender.

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