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The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. The film contains footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world's most infamous graffiti artists at work. Written by
Sundance Film Festival
The film had its unofficial UK premiere in an abandoned rail tunnel underneath London's Waterloo station, an area devoted to graffiti and street art. Tickets for this sold out in a minute. A red carpet was spraypainted on the ground especially for the occasion, while spectators were all presented with tins of spray paint as they left the screening. See more »
Not that I felt the same thrill Thierry must have gotten while roaming the streets with street artists, I however admit to downloading the movie via torrent (yes its illegal), and so watched it in my own living room for anyone interested in the circumstances of the review.
Viewers should be reminded that Exit Through the Gift Shop is a documentary rather than a movie, but at the same time plays out more like an adventure movie than an educational one about street artists. Albeit being more down to earth, a fitting comparison could be Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
Thierry Guetta is our main character and camera guy at the same time. While lurking behind the camera he tells us his intriguing story when his life took a sudden and distinct turn. He had became known as "the guy with the camera" - developing some kind of compulsive disorder after his mother passed. His argument that everything should be recorded or else abruptly might get lost at any point in life seems reasonable but his thousands of tapes, that nobody would ever watch, piled up in his basement confirms the maladaptive nature of his behavior.
His compulsive filming became a useful tool first when he met a street artist that he began to follow - filming every event of the artists creative process. He sank deeper and deeper into the world of street artists and that became sort of an addiction to Thierry. He seemed to almost forget about his wife and kids. Exit Through the Gift Shop tells us as much about street artisting as it does about Thierry himself. Despite being, as he himself points out, "a ghost behind the camera", his character truly steals the show. This is by no means a problem but rather enrich the story with a greater purpose. Thierrys meeting with Banksy and the following episodes poses a lot of interesting questions about what art really is, what it means to humans, what talent is made of and even about complex group behavior.
Despite being directed by a street artist and evidently put together from thousands of different tapes, Exit Through the Gift Shop is amazingly well directed. It doesn't feel hyped, it doesn't seem to lie or exaggerate the happenings and the fact that an interesting, motivated and special character gets to portrait everything from an outside view is fascinating to watch. My text is hardly enough to summarize it so the only tip i can give you is WATCH IT!
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