Coming to DVD this coming Tuesday, December 14 (and already available on VOD/iTunes): EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP
This is-it or isn’t-it a real doc by enigmatic British street artist Banksy debuted as a surprise screening at this year’s Sundance, with examples of his infamous graffiti appearing around Park City in a brilliant promotional tie-in/lead-up to the premiere. It’s had a critically well-received, if limited, release, and is shortlisted for the documentary Oscar.
Much has been written about the film’s claims at truth – in part due to related issues in other films from this year including CATFISH and I’M STILL HERE – with many believing the whole film is a hoax perpetrated by Banksy with collaborator Shepard Fairey. While it’s hard to say with absolute certainty that everything in EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP is “real,” it seems to me that a significant portion of the film and the people in it are genuine. It could be an elaborate prank, but, if so, it’s one that’s well-executed and looks like a doc.
With that out of the way, Banksy’s film tells the story of Thierry Guetta, an LA-based French semi-bumbling video-obsessed shop-owner who begins to train his camera on street artists. Meeting Fairey and Banksy, among others, he documents their nighttime escapades before being encouraged to develop his own art, creating his own persona, “Mr Brainwash,” and culminating in a sensational gallery show. It’s one of those stories that seem too good to be true, but, then again, those are often the same ones that remind us that truth is often stranger than fiction. Whatever it is, EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP is engaging and entertaining, and offers a look, manufactured or not, into the creative process of one of the most intriguing figures in contemporary art.