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A conversation with Basquiat

by Tamra Davis
USA, 2009, 38′
Presented at Lo Schermo dell’Arte 2009 – Italian premiere
CAMERA: Tamra Davis
EDITING: Josh Oreck
MUSIC: Stephen Bernstein, Doug Wieselman, Lonnie Plaxico, Ben Perowsky, JD Forster
INTERVIEW: Becky Johnstone
PRODUCER: Tamra Davis
PRODUCTION: Blue Train Entertainment
This documentary is a portrait of one of the 20th century’s most famous artists and contains extracts from a rare interview given by Jean-Michel Basquiat to Becky Johnstone and to his film maker friend Tamra Davis. Basquiat appears smiling and ironic, and while always seen in close-up he reminisces about his troubled life, from his first childhood memory to his adolescence, to his debut at 17 as a New York graffiti artist (under the pseudonym of SAMO ), to his first shows and his rapid raise to fame, always encouraged and followed by his friend Andy Warhol. The documentary was shot in one of the rooms of Beverly Hills’s L’Ermitage Hotel in June 1986, two years before the artist’s tragic death due to an overdose at the age of 27. It contains photographs and rare clips of the artist at work in his studio. It is a rare testimonial of an extraordinary talent extinguished too early by the merciless rules of the art market world.
Tamra Davis Born in Los Angeles in 1962. She studied cinema at the Los Angeles City College. A successful maker of music videos for Hanson, Luscious Jackson, Sonic Youth, Cher and Bette Midler, she started her movie career in 1992 directing Drew Barrymore in the feature-length film Guncrazy. In addition to filming several successful comedies, among which Half Baked with Dave Chappelle, Davis also made numerous films. Her documentary Mi Vida Loca tells the story of San Fernando Valley gangs. She has shot a movie in Africa, for the United Nations, on Bill Clinton’s anti mines campaign.
Selected Filmography
1992 Guncrazy; 1993 CB4; 1995 Billy Madison; 1997 Best Men; 1998 Half-Baked; 2000 Skipped Parts; 2002 Crossroads.