Exit Through the Giftshop

Year: 2010
Production Co: Paranoid Pictures
Director: Banksy
Writer: Banksy

A decade after Michael Moore revitalised the documentary genre, and with everyone from Christopher Guest to Shane and Clayton Jacobson (Kenny) continuing to wave the flag for the mockumentary, where else was there to go for the cinematic form?

The answer, of course, is a film that might be a mockumentary masquerading as a documentary, or vice versa, or any of the above.

Ostensibly it's the work of secretive UK graffiti artist Banksy, who makes an appearance as a hooded figure, backlit so we can't see his face and with his voice disguised with filters to hide his identity.

When a young Frenchman living in LA becomes fascinated with the underground street art movement he goes about tracking the biggest players down, intending to make a film about them. His prime quarry is the godfather of the scene, Banksy. When he finally tracks the elusive vandal down, the latter agrees to be featured.

The story then claims the result by the over-eager wannabe graffiti artist was so atrocious Banksy took over production of the film from him, shaping it into what we see on screen.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn the tubby, slapstick French hero – maybe the entire thing – is complete fiction. In fact, I'm prepared to entertain the possibility Banksy himself is an amalgam of efforts by some group of skateboard-riding art directors from a funky UK advertising agency.

But while the enigma of the riddle of the mystery that comprises the approach of the film might all be a ruse, the glimpse into the methods and personalities of the underground street art world is a fascinating topic for any doco.

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