Many of those who have immersed themselves in contemporary culture have either seen of or heard of a few severely overlooked cinematic offerings that were the creative brainchildren of highly renowned artists. The creative likes of Dali, Basquiat, Gondry and Burton have all made films that at one point in time were considered footnotes to their artistic careers. These days, with information and content delivery seemingly in hyper-speed, it can be rather easy to forget that many of the artists we revere today had some some humbling creative starts.
That stated, we all know that the riveting work of Jean-Michel Basquiat has become the baseline of what many consider to be both socially jarring and creatively profound in its originality. However, there was a time when Basquiat took his creative exploits to another medium as he claimed the title of director for the film Downtown 81. Filmed in 1981, this piece of cinematic history features a 19-year-old Jean-Michel in what is essentially a real-time look into the creative world of lower Manhattan where he was rapidly becoming a notable artistic star. On the back-end of the film there were a few production snags due to the film’s financier being audited and having all of the footage seized by the Italian government. As a result, the finished film did not see a release until almost ten years after Basquiat’s death. If you’re a fan of his work and the era in which he made his name ring in artistic circles around the world, this film is undoubtedly something to take in.