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The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat. A “Documentary”.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (photo: courtesy)
Film/ TV

The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat. A “Documentary”.

Magnolia Pictures releases an official trailer for the upcoming Basquiat documentary titled Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat by director Sara Driver. It is a loose look at the life of famed artist Jean-Michel Basquiat living in New York City as a homeless street artist known as SAMO.

Jean-Michael Basquiat

The documentary trailer is an uplifting and glamorous portrayal of how Basquiat survived in New York in the 70s. It normalizes his life on the street and strangely depicts Basquiat as aware he would die young and takes to art as a way to be remembered. 

The director incorporates never-before-seen works, writings and photographs into the film. Director Sara Driver, who was part of the New York arts scene herself, shaped the narrative of the film with her friends and other artists who emerged from that period: Jim Jarmusch, James Nares, Fab Five Freddy, Glenn O’Brien, Kenny Scharf, Lee Quinones, Patricia Field, Luc Sante and many others.

Drawing upon their 3rd person memories of the artist the film portrays a young Jean-Michel in downtown New York City -pre AIDS, during the Reagan era and the real estate and art booms – also during the start of the war on drugs and public and media portrayals of black people addicted to the smokeable form of cocaine dubbed “crack”.

Gray in 1980, with Basquiat lying on the floor and (left to right) Vincent Gallo, Wayne Clifford, Nick Taylor, Michael Holman.

Basquiat, a victim of drug abuse, died of a heroin overdose at 27 after he rose to fame and fortune. He like most African America’s impacted by the flood of drugs in their communities were not given the same level of care and support as their white American counterparts.

The film does not cover his short adult life nor does it articulate the struggles Basquiat experiences as a black child in America. The film’s soft romantic trailer does not mention his black experience at all which raises questions how the director, Sara Driver, can “document” the life of Basquiat given racism and segregation were the driving force behind his art works.

Unseen photo of young Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Magnolia Films will release Boom for Real in select theaters starting May 11th.


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