Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child is Tamra Davis’ extraordinary close-up look at the artist. Davis and Basquiat were friends, and she filmed an extensive interview with him in 1986, two years before he died. More than two decades later, she used that interview as the centerpiece for a film as colorful and lively as the 80’s SoHo it brings back to life. It’s rare for a film to immerse us so thoroughly and intimately in an artist’s life and work.
If you missed it during its theatrical run last year, it’s easier than ever to catch now. The film will be on PBS’ Independent Lens series tonight, and is streaming on Netflix.
Here’s a short trailer, which unfortunately doesn’t capture the film’s energy. The first part, featuring Basquiat, gives a truer sense than the talking head that follows.