Desperately Seeking Something
A Memoir About Movies, Mothers, and Material Girls
by Susan Seidelman
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Pub Date 18 Jun 2024 | Archive Date 02 Jul 2024
The funny and insightful first-person story of the trailblazing movie director of the 80s and 90s whose fearless punk drama, “Smithereens” became the first American indie film to compete at Cannes, and smash hit "Desperately Seeking Susan" led to a four-decade career in film.
Starting out in the mid-70s, a time when few women were directing movies, Susan was determined to become a filmmaker. She longed to tell stories about the unrepresented characters she wanted to see on screen: unconventional women in unusual circumstances, needing to express themselves and maintain their autonomy.
Her genre-blending films reflect a passion for classic Hollywood storytelling, mixed with a playful New Wave spirit, informed by her years living in downtown NYC.
Seidelman continued to shape American pop culture well into the nineties, directing the pilot of the iconic TV series “Sex And The City,” focusing her sharp lens on the changing place of women in American society and helping to fundamentally reshape our self-image in ways that are still felt today.
Raised in the safe cocoon of 1960s suburbia, Susan Seidelman wasn’t a misfit, an oddball, or an outlier. She was a “good-girl” with a little bit of “bad” hidden inside. A restless teenager, she dreamed of escape and reinvention, a theme that would play out in her films as well as in her own life. Because she loved stories, a high school guidance counselor suggested she become a librarian, but she had her sights set further afield. In 1973, she left the Philly suburbs, enrolled at NYU’s burgeoning graduate film school and moved to NYC’s Lower East Side. There, she found herself in the right place at the right time. New York City was falling apart, but out of that chaos came a burst of creative energy whose effects are still felt in American pop culture today. Downtown became a vibrant playground where film, music, performance and graffiti art cross-pollinated and where Seidelman chronicled the lives of the colorful misfits, oddballs, dreamers and schemers she met there.
It’s all in DESPERATELY SEEKING SOMETHING. Seidelman not only has a keen perspective on the times she’s lived through -- from her Twiggy-obsessed girlhood, through the Women’s Lib movement of the early 70s, the punk scene of the late 70s, Madonna-mania of the 80s, to the dot-com “greed is good” 90s, and beyond--she tells great stories.