Monday, June 7, 2010

Sydney Film Festival Day 6 Review Exit Through The Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift shop was the first film to sell out both sessions at the festival. It has a lot of word-of-mouth following and the audience for the film was signficantly younger than that for the previous film (Lola). The Festival had changed the intro music and the pre-film noise in the theatre was completely different. The energy level as this film started was amazing.

On one level the film is a simple and entertaining documentary made by one street artist on a film-maker turned artist. On another level it explores the legitimacy of Street Art and what (and who) has integrity and what doesn't.

The film is successful as it educates (or indoctrinates depending on your view point) as it entertains. Incredibly entertaining it is only in the closing portion of the film it illuminates the evolution of the relationship between artist turned film-maker Banksy and film-maker turned artist Theiry aka Mr Brainwash.

Theiry spent 7 years filming the often illegal activities of the underground Street Art movement. Banksy, who is incredibly secretive, was his holy grail, the one artist he could not get access to. A refusal of entry into LA for Banksy's companion became Theiry's lucky break and after helping Banksy out with LA locations they become fast friends. Theiry gets access to Banksy's highly secretive circle and films througout.

As Street Art transitions to high-art and the valuable exhibitions and collective circuit the Street Artists tell Theiry now is the time to expose what it is really about. Theiry's long promised film fails to hit the mark and Banksy decides to take a chance and do it himself - Exit Through The Gift Shop is the result.

At what point does art become valuable? and at what point does art, produced in commercial quantities, lose it's value?
When is volume of output about creating an impact and when is it about making money?
These questions are flirted with in the film but left to the audience to formulate themselves and answer if they want.

The editing is spot-on and Rhys Ifans voiceover is perfectly pitched. An absolutely enjoyable film that can be taken lightly or left for you to ask and debate questions endlessly.

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