Much like photography, film preserves graffiti and street art, but to a much greater extent, film triumphs as a tool to tell the stories of the artists and the medium. It can present individuals and personalities in a field that survives through anonymity. Film can follow the process, a city, or an artist through time. It can track a movement across the world.
The Legend of Cool Disco Dan (2012). The Legend of COOL “DISCO” DAN is a feature documentary narrated by D.C. native Henry Rollins that tells the story of Washington, D.C. in the 1980s through the eyes of D.C. graffiti legend, COOL “DISCO”DAN. Blending exclusive interviews with dozens of local and national celebrities along with archival footage, Washington natives offer the most comprehensive portrait to date on this critical decade. The development of Go-Go, D.C.’s distinctive style of urban music, racial tensions, crews, sensationalist media, crack, and graffiti are important pieces of this story.
Outside In: The Story of Art in the Streets (2011). This documentary explores the historical significance of the LA Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibit Art in the Streets. Featuring interviews with the artists of the exhibit and glimpses of the flocking masses, it looks at the context in which street art and graffiti find themselves today.
Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010). The Academy liked it, but few are to say for sure whether the Academy is full of suckers that fell for Banksy’s biggest ruse yet. Ever the social commentator, Banksy examines the capitalist cooption of street art and graffiti through an eccentric Frenchman’s foray into gallery street art and his transformation into Mr. Brainwash.
Talking Walls (2009) is a 16-episode mini documentary series that profiles a “diverse range of artists who are making bold statements on the urban canvas in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. The series goes from homes and studios to the streets to chronicle the works of both internationally known names and younger artists just getting a name in the underground in their respective cities.”
Beautiful Losers (2008) “follows the lives and careers of a collective group of Do-it-yourself artists and designers who inadvertently affected the art world. They learned their crafts through practice, trial and error, and good old-fashioned innovation. The story of the Beautiful Losers will be a retrospective celebration of this spirit.”
Bomb It (2008). International in scope, this award-winning documentary takes a global perspective on the street art movement. It likens the movement to a war and paints the city as the battleground. “This cutting edge documentary tracks down today’s most innovative and pervasive street artists as they battle for control over the urban visual landscape. You’ll never look at public space the same way again.”
SprayMasters (2008). “From fugitives to gallery artists to darlings of corporate America, SprayMasters profiles four prominent graffiti writers who trace the unique history of graffiti over these past three decades, discussing its meaning, relevance, global reach and impact on art, fashion and advertising.”
NEXT, a Primer on Urban Painting (2005) is a documentary that explores American street art. “Combining verite visual moments and interviews with painters, journalists, collectors, sociologists, DJ’s, art critics and other participants within the subculture, the film will convey the dynamism and creative brilliance of this important emerging artistic movement.”
Style Wars (1983). “Style Wars is regarded as the indispensable document of NY street culture and subway graffiti art of the early ’80s, the filmic record of a golden age of youthful creativity that exploded into the world from a city in crisis.”
Red Line D.C Last November, after the release of our 30-minute documentary, (available at Sankofa Video Books & Cafe, 2714 Georgia Ave, NW, Washington, D.C.), The Red Line D.C. Project celebrated it’s last days.