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Arthouse FIlms to Canvass Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child this Summer

It might have been announced just today, but this deal was probably completed several weeks back, Arthouse Films (small NYC-based distributor of docu films) has picked up the rights to Tamra Davis’s film Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child. Arthouse plans a summer release, probably right after Julian Schnabel preems Miral in Cannes.

It might have been announced just today, but this deal was probably completed several weeks back, Arthouse Films (small NYC-based distributor of docu films) has picked up the rights to Tamra Davis’s film Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child. Arthouse plans a summer release, probably right after Julian Schnabel preems Miral in Cannes.

The Sundance premiered film on the artist, was actually filmed two decades back. Davis (as you can grasp from the trailer below) was on the camera lense end of an interview with the artist, a couple of years before his death – the filmmaker stuck the footage in a drawer and didn’t touch it until her short film in 2006. Until then, we had Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat with Jeffrey Wright in the lead as the reference title on the life of the artist – I’m a Schnabel fan, but wasn’t a fan of this biopic portrait.

In his short career, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a phenomenon. He became notorious for his graffiti art under the moniker Samo in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene, sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for $200, and became best friends with Andy Warhol. Appreciated by both the art cognoscenti and the public, Basquiat was launched into international stardom. However, soon his cult status began to override the art that had made him famous in the first place.

Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in this definitive documentary but also delves into Basquiat as an iconoclast. His dense, bebop-influenced neoexpressionist work emerged while minimalist, conceptual art was the fad; as a successful black artist, he was constantly confronted by racism and misconceptions. Much can be gleaned from insider interviews and archival footage, but it is Basquiat’s own words and work that powerfully convey the mystique and allure of both the artist and the man.

Featuring interviews with Julian Schnabel, Larry Gagosian, Bruno Bischofberger, Tony Shafrazi, Fab 5 Freddy, Jeffrey Deitch, Glenn O’Brien, Maripol, Kai Eric, Nicholas Taylor, Fred Hoffmann, Michael Holman, Diego Cortez, Annina Nosei, Suzanne Mallouk, Rene Ricard, among many others.

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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