The Metrograph is releasing a new 35mm print of the fabled Edo Bertoglio film, “Downtown 81,” featuring Jean-Michel Basquiat on a journey through the Lower East Side amid plenty of old school characters including John Lurie, Fab Five Freddy and Debbie Harry, with musical performances by DNA, James White and the Blacks, and Kid Creole and the Coconuts. They write:
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, a naturally compelling presence, starring. Left incomplete due to money problems and 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 on a lost world of life on the margins and crazy creative ferment.
From the film:
“The Lower East Side.
Looked like a warzone.
Like we dropped the bomb on ourselves…
You can get anything you want here if you try. And you can get plenty of what you don’t want, too, if you’re not careful…
If you want to see something ugly, you never have too far to go.
But if you want to find something beautiful, well, that’s not too hard either…
It can be a jungle… And it can be a paradise, too.”
—Jean-Michel Basquiat, via Saul Williams, in Downtown 81
The screening is part of Metrograph’s “NYC ’81” series, running October 4 – October 20. More info and tickets can be found here.