Friday, 30 January 2009

first look: bomb it! the global graffiti documentary

Bomb It captures the artists in motion
"Bomb It is nothing if not breathless and authoritative in its global view of how graffiti spread from Philadelphia and New York to the world." - The Seattle Times

"A remarkably compact and engaging overview of the history and ideology of this urban outlaw art form." - Los Angeles Times

"Just watch. And get yo damn ass excited!"  - Village Voice

Bomb It: The Global Graffiti Documentary (2008) has its Australian premiere this February at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).

Bomb It is a dynamic documentary tracing the history and evolution of graffiti culture. From its roots in the Bronx subways, the investigation travels across five continents, en route interviewing both famed artists and identity-obscured street 'bombers' as well as giving screen time to the authorities and naysayers who consider tagging a public nuisance.

From 1980s US pioneering 'wildstyle' to Blek le Rat's Paris stencils; Barcelona laneway genius to Capetown social revolutionaries; Japanese pictogram girls to the hidden 'galleries' of Sao Paulo sewers - Bomb It delves into how graffiti has been used in varying cultures as a means of expression, protest, and beautification. Not simply a survey of 'spectacular sprays', this film is a vital investigation of often awe-inspiring art and attitudes writ large across global public space. 

ACMI Film Programmer Amree Hewitt says that Bomb It leaves behind more than art and paint fumes. According to Amree, it captures vividly the fervent belief and passion behind the artistic movement of graffiti, as well as the people, the works, the societal reactions and the spaces in which the artworks appear. 

"This globe trotting, high energy survey of art and attitudes is so much more than an explosive record of dynamic 'sprays' and insights into their famous or balaclava obscured creators. The film explores how the act is intended and met politically and culturally in various countries. In one country it can get you killed, in another celebrated. It also cleverly explores what it means to battle for an increasingly volatile and congested public space," she said. 

'Bombing', the choice term of graffiti artists, continues to evolve. Theories abound about graffiti in primitive times but in the last half century, street art has travelled from subways and sewers into galleries and marketing campaigns. The films interview subjects allude to the evolution of the war the movement is entrenched in, now a war with corporations for public space, as well as the obvious war against government and the law.

Director Jon Reiss (Better Living Through Circuitry) is at the helm of this film. Throughout the filming Reiss was acutely aware his pro-graffiti interview subjects may make for difficult investigation. "I knew it was going to be difficult culture to penetrate. Your basically filming people committing felonies, having them admit to committing felonies. One of the things that people find startling about the film is that everyone expects these people to be vandals and thugs and criminals. Most of them have a lot to say, have really thought about what they're doing a lot and really have some kind of philosophy about society and their role in it. To commit to putting yourself at risk on so many levels, you have to have really good reasons to do it," he said. 

Reiss also said that once winning their trust, the artists "opened up their address books and phonebooks" enabling him to interview over a hundred artists across five continents, his subjects transcending race, gender and social class.

ACMI presents this exclusive First Look screening of Bomb It: The Global Graffiti Documentary for four nights only: Thursday 12th February - Sunday 15th February 2009

Jon Reiss, 93 mins, USA, 2008, Digital Betacam, English and various languages with English subtitles. Source: Antidote International Films. Courtesy: Jon Reiss and James Debbs

For more information on the ACMI website, click here, or find international praise for Bomb It on the film's website here: 

Further information

Claire Butler
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2415 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 654
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