Beth B exploded onto the New York film scene in the late ‘70s, after receiving her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1977. Some of these breakthrough films were shown at the Film Forum, Max’s Kansas City, CBGB’s, and the New York Film Festival. These and more recent films have been shown at, and acquired by, the Whitney Museum and MoMA. Her early films are the focus of the documentary film, Blank City, and have been the subjects of several books and other documentaries, including Downtown Film and TV Culture 1975-2001; The Cinema of Transgression; Art, Performance, Media; and No Wave: Underground 80.
B has had retrospectives of her films at the Whitney Museum, The National Film Theater, London; Montreal Film Festival; Nucleo Dos Cineastas Independentes, Lisbon; the Danish Film Institute, and the Lausanne Film Festival, Switzerland.
B has received significant honors and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (multiple years), the Lannan Foundation 1998, the New York State Council on the Arts 1982, the Jerome Foundation 1995, Anonymous was a Woman 1991, Bohen Foundation 1990, the Public Art Fund 1990, Creative Time Citywide 1990, and New York Foundation for the Arts 1978, 1984. B has served on the dramatic film competition juries at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival and on the documentary jury at the Tel Aviv Film Festival. Her screenplay Life in Luxury was selected for the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab. Her award-winning films include Belladonna, Two Small Bodies, and Exposed.
Zeitgeist Films and the Filmmakers Coop are distributing her feature documentary, Exposed, which premiered at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival and is now streaming on Fandor.com with B’s library of film. B is currently in post-production on the feature documentary film, Call Her Applebroog; is developing the television series, Free Fall; is in production on the photo and video installation, VOYEUR, opening at Howl Gallery in 2016; and is collaborating on a large-scale video installation entitled, Near Death, with musician Jim Coleman.
During her prolific career, Beth B has produced over 30 films within the narrative, documentary, and experimental genres. She has produced and directed narrative independent films and television productions, mounted large-scale media installations as well as creating, Take My Breath Away, a theatrical production for BAM’s Artist in Action series. Her work has been shown at festivals including the Sundance Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, the Locarno Film Festival, and in galleries and museums including MoMA, the Whitney Biennial, the Tate Modern, the Pompidou Center, Deitch Projects, and PPOW Gallery.
In 2007, B began work on Exposed, a non-fiction feature film about 8 underground performance artists who use their bodies in provocative and comedic ways to redefine notions of “normal” and societal attitudes toward gender. Exposed premiered and was nominated Best Documentary Film at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival and received an Honorable Mention at the Tel Aviv Film Festival. Exposed went on to show in over 20 countries worldwide in Human Rights Film Festivals, Queer Film Festivals, and Women’s Film Festivals including the Nuremberg Human Rights Film Festival and this human world film festival in Austria and is now in distribution worldwide. After its U.S. premiere at DOC NYC in 2013, Exposed screened (along with live performers from the film) at the Museum of Modern Art. Exposed continues its 20 city theatrical release in the U.S., is now available in DVD and digital distribution through Zeitgeist Films and non-theatrical through the Filmmaker’s Coop.
From 2001 to 2008, B produced and directed television documentaries including: Positive ID: The Case Files of Anthony Falsetti, Family Secrets, The Black Widower, Pattern of Deception, Death of a Rising Star, Crimes Scenes Uncovered, Badge of Dishonor, A Daughter’s Love, and An Unlikely Terrorist.
Beth B’s feature narrative film, Two Small Bodies (1994), based on Neal Bell’s play and starring Fred Ward and Suzy Amis, was celebrated worldwide being featured at the Locarno, Toronto and Sundance film festivals. Salvation! (1987), a sharpedged social satire starring Viggo Mortensen and Exene Cervenka, prefigured pop culture's fascination with televangelism and premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and played theatrically worldwide.
For ZDF, ARTE, the Sundance Channel, and PBS, B directed long and short subject films including Breasts for PBS's Egg the Arts Show, segments for Nerve, the HBO series and website; and segments for AfterEffects, the Sundance Channel series. B’s feature documentary film, Breathe In/Breathe Out, (a co-production with Open City/Blow up, Dune and ZDF Television) had its world premiere at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2000 and was broadcast on German, Swiss and Austrian Television. The film is about war and trauma. Also, B produced and directed Voices Unheard a riveting in-depth documentary about the incarceration and treatment of juvenile sex offenders, which premiered in 1998 at The Museum of Modern Art and The Walter Reade Theater, NYC. Visiting Desire, a feature documentary, first premiered at the 1996 Toronto Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival, and was then released theatrically. B creates an unconventional documentary where people come together to confront gender realities and fantasies.
B has produced and directed a series of films and tapes that merge documentary and fiction. The award-winning video Belladonna, a collaboration with artist Ida Applebroog, is a brutal testimony on violence, sex, and family relations. It premiered in 1989 at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts and was invited to participate in the Whitney Bienale. Thanatopsis, written by and featuring Lydia Lunch, is a disturbing yet poetic meditation on war and personal resistance and premiered in 1991 at The Kitchen, NYC. Stigmata (1991), a documentary on drug abuse and recovery, articulates internal anguish with a vividness that is both haunting and chilling. In 1994, B directed High Heel Nights for ARTE TV in France, a documentary about the transformation of the body.
Concurrent to B’s prolific film career, she has created large-scale media installations as well as sculpture and photographic exhibitions, which have shown at museums and galleries worldwide. Some exhibitions include: Portraits & Playthings and Monuments at Deitch Projects, NYC and Trophies at PPOW, NYC and the Laurent Delaye Gallery, London. Museum exhibitions include the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hayward Gallery, the Weatherspoon Art Gallery, the Bayly Museum, the Gemeente- museum, and the Podewil. Some of Beth B’s film retrospectives include: The National Film Theater, London; Montreal Film Festival; Nucleo Dos Cineastas Independentes, Lisbon; the Danish Film Institute, and the upcoming Laussane Film Festival in October 2014.
In 1990, B produced two public art projects. The bilingual newspaper, Day of Hope took the form of a newspaper fashioned after the New York Post; however it reported only hopeful news, distributed in 50 streetside “Free Paper” dispensers in NYC. Creative Time CityWide funded Surgeon General’s Warning, a bilingual series of silkscreen posters that the artist designed and posted on the streets of NY confronting touchy contemporary issues like abortion, censorship, AIDS, racism, and homelessness.