Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jon Reiss’ Global Graffiti Documentary "Bomb It"

Teams Up With Theatrical Distributors
Hip Hop Film Festival
For US Hybrid Screenings Starting March 2008
DVD Release April 29, 2008

LOS ANGELES, CA – Antidote Films partners with theatrical distributors Hip Hop Film Festival (HHFF) to release Bomb It, the global graffiti documentary by award winning director Jon Reiss. Featuring street artists and top graffiti writers from 5 continents Bomb It is the first film to update the story of graffiti with a truly international perspective. Hip Hop Film Festival plans to screen Bomb It across North America starting in March 2008. The hybrid screenings will take place at theaters, cultural centers, alternative venues and a handful of festival. Docurama Films will release the DVD on April 29, 2008. Personalities such as Cornbread, Lady Pink, acclaimed hip hop artist and former graffiti writer KRS One, international art machine Shepard Fairey, Brazilian bombing twin brothers Os Gemeos, and others share their lives with the camera. Globally comprehensive as well as politically relevant, a recent review by reported, “… At the core of the film is a poignant social statement about public space and the war being waged for it.” To learn more please visit and For continual updates about this film and graffiti culture in general - such as events, artist rights, screenings, etc. - visit the Bomb It blog at

Starting with graffiti’s roots in New York and Philadelphia, Bomb It goes on to explore the graff cultures in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Barcelona, Berlin, Cape Town, São Paulo, and Tokyo, before finally wrapping up in Los Angeles. The film features original footage with artists around the world who have taken the form and applied it to their particular cultural and social conditions, from Latin America, where graffiti has been adapted into the mural tradition, to Japan where anime inspired rakugaki juxtaposes with formal calligraphy and conformist societal norms, to Europe where a dadaist/surrealist tradition produces deliberately confrontational prankstering.

While some believe the roots of graffiti can be traced back to pre-linguistic cave markings and the innate human need for self-expression, graffiti remains a highly controversial issue. Using a myriad of original interviews as well as guerilla footage of graffiti writers in action, Bomb It tells the story of contemporary graffiti from its roots in ancient rock paintings through Picasso to Latino placas through its notorious emergence as a visual adjunct to the rise of hip hop culture in 1970's New York City culminating in its current, pervasive presence in a myriad of forms – on the streets and in pop culture throughout the world, co-opted into advertising, on our clothing, etc.

The controversy surrounding graffiti is an integral part of the story: from anti-tagging groups, to the impact of New York City's infamous "Quality of Life" laws which directly targeted illicit writing (the film includes an interview with NYC’s most outspoken graffiti critic, NYC Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.), to the proliferation of these laws throughout the world. Graffiti – as well as stenciling, stickering, postering, and any unsanctioned graphic “interference” in public space - raises important questions that delve deep into our contemporary social structure such as: Who has the right to express themselves? What is a canvas? Where should art take place? If public space is a forum for discussion, which voices will be heard?

Bomb It is the most comprehensive documentary about graffiti and street art to date. Roughly 200 artists were interviewed for this film. In addition to those named above, interviewees included Mear One, Terrible T-KID 170, Taki 183, Zephyr, Tribe, Tats Cru, Chaz Bojorquez, Robbie Conal, Ron English, Cope 2, Daim, Revs, Blek Le Rat, Very One, Stay High 149, Tracy 168, KET, Chino, Revok, Pez, Sixe, Zezao, Faith47, and so many more (see for full list of artists interviewed).

The film’s soundtrack combines a striking roster of hip-hop, electronic music and native sounds from some of the locales visited. Highlights include tracks by Immortal Technique, Big Syphe, The Budos Band, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Disco D, Donald Byrd, Spank Rock, Virgin Tears vs Dave The Hustler, and Mathematics. Indie record labels such as Highpoint Lowlife, Daptone Records, and Ninja Tune were extremely helpful in the process. Soweto Gospel Choir, ACFC Choir, and Black Noise underscore the South African scenes while the São Paulo portion boasts songs by Brazil’s Arthur Joly, and ARD, and Uruguay’s Federico Ramos Composed.

“Filmmaker Jon Reiss finds himself drawn to subcultures with guts,” the Village Voice wrote in May of this year during an interview for Bomb It’s world premiere at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. Named one of “10 Digital Directors to Watch” by Daily Variety, Reiss has covered the West Coast punk explosion, documented the notorious San Francisco performance group Survival Research Laboratories, rave culture in his debut feature-length documentary, Better Living Through Circuitry, and now graffiti culture. He also has a non-doc under his belt: the award-winning dark psychological drama, Cleopatra's Second Husband. Also famous for his music videos, in 1995 the Toronto Film Festival curated a retrospective of Reiss' music videos, which included 1992’s acclaimed Nine Inch Nails video, “Happiness in Slavery.” Jon Reiss’ work has screened at festivals, theaters and cultural centers throughout the world as well as on channels such as IFC, Showtime, and the Sundance Channel. Reiss received his MFA from the UCLA Film School.

The Hip Hop Film Festival was created to provide an opportunity for filmmakers to showcase their work and for audiences to experience these films in a theatrical environment, bringing people together for events, discussions, panels, and workshops. It curates films that speak with a true voice to all generations and cultures worldwide, representing the real values of hip-hop: Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding, Freedom, Justice, Equality, Respect, Unity, Love, and Peace. Learn more about HHFF at

No comments: