Jean-Michel Basquiat is, of course, now known as one of the most important and influential artist of the late 20th century. But back when he was still a struggling artist trying to find his vision, and made a name for himself, he starred as himself, a struggling young artist, trying to find the cash to prevent his eviction, in the low budget part documentary/part experimental film "Downtown 81."
Made in 1980-1981, directed by Edo Bertoglio, written and produced by Glenn O’Brien, who knew Basquiat from his appearances on O’Brien’s public access TV show "TV Party," the film presented a hard core, unblinking version of a New York City of that period, quite a different place than it is today.
Back in those days, New York was occupied by abandoned buildings, graffiti, drug dealers, prostitutes, strip clubs and porn shops. But also going on at the same time was “a vibrant underground scene with new music, new talent, new art and new expression all merging into one powerful force of energy."
Downtown 81 became an instant cult classic when it was finally released almost 20 years later, in 2000, making its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, 12 years after Basquiat’s death in 1988. It helped further launch Basquiat's stardom in the art world. But it’s a film rarely seen today, and when it is screened, it's usually from a sub-par, worn out print, or inferior video copies.
However, that was until now, since the film has been remastered and restored, and will make its digital VOD debut on June 24th through Music Box Films and Submarine Deluxe.
To find out more go HERE.
Watch the film's trailer below: