This is the third screening in Cinebeasts’ two month long Subway Series film festival. This screening will focus on the artists, taggers, and vandals, who make their mark underground in tunnels and on trains. It features the short film Tunnel Stories, followed by the featured documentary SprayMasters, and a few short subway-related surprises.
Geoff Duncanson |2002 | USA | 24 minutes | Digital Projection
Beneath New York City, there is a book being written on the walls of tunnels and underground passageways. Raw, honest, and fascinating, Tunnel Stories provides a rare glimpse into the world of the graffiti artists who see subway tunnels as a playground, gallery, and lifestyle. Hear the stories of why these artists, writers, taggers, and vandals risk arrest, injury, or even death in pursuit of their clandestine lifestyle.
Manfred Kirchheimer | 2008 | USA | 85 minutes | Digital Projection
In SprayMasters, four ex-graffiti artists reflect on their early years as renegades who snuck into rail yards and decorated New York City subway cars with stolen paint while eluding arrest. Now in their forties and embraced by the establishment, Lee Quinones, Lady Pink, and Futura 2000 are prominent artists with an international following, while Zephyr is a widely published journalist who writes about graffiti and popular culture.
They talk about the extreme risks they took as teenagers, the joys of seeing their work on subway cars, the diverse styles of graffiti, its global reach, and its place in modern life, where it has been co-opted by advertising and fashion. Directed by Manny Kirchheimer (Tall), SprayMasters is a follow-up to his underground classic Stations of the Elevated (1980), one of the first films to feature New York’s infamous subway graffiti.
Although the exuberant painted trains are gone, they live again in SprayMasters in rare, never-before-seen footage, set to an electrifying original musical soundtrack that evokes the heyday of graffiti. (The Cinema Guild)
Manfred Kirchheimer, born in 1931 in Germany, came to the US in 1936 when his family fled the Nazis. He studied film at Hans Richter’s Institute of Film Techniques of the City College and spent 24 years in the NY film industry as an editor, director, and cameraman, editing over 300 films for the documentary departments of American television networks, with subjects ranging from cultural programming such as Leonard Bernstein in Venice, for CBS to biography for Time-Life Films as in Krushchev Remembers. Stations of the Elevated (1980) and We Were So Beloved (1986) are Kirchheimer’s most celebrated films. Stations, featured at the New York Film Festival, is a lyrical documentary that follows elevated subway trains that are illicitly painted by slum youths. In We Were So Beloved, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, Kirchheimer probes the experiences and attitudes of Jewish refugees and survivors from Nazi Germany, who had created a community in northern Manhattan’s Washington Heights. Other films include Colossus on the River (1963), Haiku (1965), Leroy Douglas (1967), Claw (1968), Short Circuit(1973), Bridge High (1975), Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan (2004), SprayMasters (2008), and Art is…The Permanent Revolution (2012).
Cinebeasts is a New York based collective of film nerds, vidiots, and programmers investigating the furthest reaches of the moving image universe. Since 2009 we have explored the limits of not only what to screen, but also where? and how? From the early days throwing gritty VHS tapes onto the basement wall of an LES Puerto Rican restaurant, to the more recent “Gowanderlust” – a renegade film screening + walking tour around the Gowanus Canal – we believe the context of a screening can – and should – be just as interesting as the content.