Movie Review: Saving Banksy

savingbanksyposterfnlSaving Banksy is the true story of one misguided art collectors attempts to save a painting by the world’s most infamous Street Artist from destruction and the auction block. A rare look inside the secretive world of Graffiti and Street Art. Saving Banksy asks the question, “What would you do if you were offered a small fortune for a painting the artist didn’t want sold?”

Directed by Colin Day, Saving Banksy focuses on the true story of one misguided art collectors attempt to save Banksy’s famous “Haight Street Rat” from destruction and the auction block. His efforts to save the Rat are met with threats from city officials, snubs from museums and a flurry of six-figure offers from art dealers who cannot wait to get their hands on the painting. Having seen a couple of documentaries about the mysterious artist Banksy, I wondered what new this documentary would reveal and say. And, coming out the other end, it’s not only a fresh look at the art world, but also feels like a fresh take on the discussion about street art.

Saving Banksy isn’t really about Banksy the artist. The film focuses on his time in San Francisco and the impact of his art on the area, but also about street art as a whole. Interesting topics like causing fines for building owners over graffiti and how the art can “raise the value” of a building are discussed, but the bigger discussion is street art as a whole and it’s fragility and finality.

“This will look nice when it’s framed.” Courtesy of Candy Factory Films and Parade Deck Films

“This will look nice when it’s framed.” Courtesy of Candy Factory Films and Parade Deck Films

Featuring interviews with numerous artists like Ben Eine, Risk, Revok, Niels ‘Shoe’ Meulman, Blek Le Rat, Anthony Lister, Doze Green, Hera and Glen E Friedman the concept of street art is discussed. The ideas that it’s supposed to be enjoyed by the masses, in the open, and that it’ll be destroyed down the road either through further graffiti or time. But, what if it can be saved? Should it be saved? That’s part of the conflict at the heart of the film.

One individual undertakes the task of saving one of Banksy’s work with hopes of donating it to a museum where it can be forever enjoyed by the masses. But, art leads to money which leads to greed. What happens when that individual is offered large sums of money for the piece he saved? Enter the vultures of the art world who say they have Banksy’s best interests in mind, but as shown, dollars are what’s on their mind. Greed rears it’s ugly head and the love of art versus art collecting and profit versus the public good becomes a theme of the film.

Fully restored rat on display in San Francisco. Courtesy of Candy Factory Films and Parade Deck Films

Fully restored rat on display in San Francisco. Courtesy of Candy Factory Films and Parade Deck Films

That core theme was something I was very interested in and how it applies to the comic industry. Disposable entertainment, there’s debates within the comic community in how to “save” its history. Collectors (like myself) not only build large collections of floppy monthly comics, but some (like myself) also collect original art. Does my personal collection deprive others of viewing the original work? Am I saving it for future generations? Am I just doing it for profit? For anyone who enjoys are or collects, these are questions that apply to our community as much as the art collectors presented in this documentary.

The film also explores the idea of Banksy. This are works of art meant to be enjoyed by the public and to make one think. By removing them from their initial location you can destroy the meaning of the picture. By assigning value and selling them you absolutely destroy Banksy’s original vision and intention… or do you?

Through interviews and the documentary’s storytelling all of this is discussed and debated in a movie that’s engrossing and entertaining to watch. From the framing, the music, the flow of the narrative, Saving Banksy is an excellent discussion about street art and the value of art as a whole.

A documentary that makes you think Saving Banksy challenges you to think about art, museums, and collecting. By showing off differing viewpoints it doesn’t provide answers, only questions and opinions, letting the viewers make up of their own opinion.

Overall Rating: 9.35

Graphic Policy was provided a FREE screener for review