Directed by Edo Bertoglio • 2000 • United States
Starring Jean Michel Basquiat, Anna Schroeder, Giorgio Gomelsky
In 1981, writer and Warhol associate Glenn O’Brien, Swiss photographer Edo Bertoglio, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, a graffiti innovator and noise-music artist who’d just begun to exhibit his paintings, hit the streets of lower Manhattan to make a movie about the bombed-out bohemia that they knew, with a script by O’Brien, Bertoglio directing, and Basquiat starring. Left incomplete due to financing problems and only assembled for release in 2000, DOWNTOWN 81—which follows Basquiat trying to move a painting while hustling for a place to sleep—became a window onto the lost world and crazy creative ferment of early-1980s New York. Complete with appearances by John Lurie, Fab Five Freddy, and Debbie Harry, plus musical performances by DNA, James White and the Blacks, and Kid Creole and the Coconuts, this essential time capsule displays Manhattan in all its mangy glory.