Sara Driver: NYC ACMI presents

Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat

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“A treasure for those interested in Downtown New York's heyday and a demythologized Basquiat.”

Boom for Real is a window into the life of the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat and the city of New York, 1978-81. It is a comprehensive look at the movements that touched and inspired him as well as the influence a bankrupt violent city had on this seminal artist. Jean-Michel has become, over the years the ultimate representation of this period. All the many things that were going in the city fed through him — politics, hip-hop, punk rock, race issues and the art scene. 

In 1978, Jean-Michel was a teenager (18 years old), living on the street and sleeping on friends’ sofas in the East Village. He was shaped and formed by his friendships — those he influenced and those who influenced him. The crumbling City allowed them the freedom to discover and experiment with their work.

Director Sara Driver worked closely and collaboratively with friends and artists who emerged from this scene: Nan Goldin, Jim Jarmusch, James Nares, Fred Brathwaite aka Fab Five Freddy, Lee Quiñones, Luc Sante and many others. Period film footage, music, images and anecdotes of their young friend help to tell the story of Jean-Michel’s downtown NYC — pre-AIDS, before the real estate and art boom, and before anyone was motivated by money and ambition.

Boom for Real celebrates the humanism of Jean-Michel, while avoiding his mystification, and allows viewers a genuine insight into the formative years of an extraordinary artist who broke open the elitist art world.