Secretive urban artist Banksy shows film in Berlin

Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:16pm EST
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - Banksy, the secretive British artist whose work has appeared on city streets around the world, said on Sunday he hoped his documentary film "Exit Through The Gift Shop" will raise the standing of urban art.

But the anonymous graffiti artist with a cult following said in a shadowy video message to audiences at the Berlin Film Festival on Sunday before the screening of his film that it was possible it could have the complete opposite effect.

"I guess my ambition was to make a film that would do for graffiti art what 'The Karate Kid' did for martial arts -- a film that would get every schoolkid in the world picking up a spray can and having a go," Banksy said of his first film.

"As it turns out, I think we might have a film that does for street art what 'Jaws' did for waterskiing."

Banksy's voice was altered and his face concealed, as in the documentary. His film is the story of urban art as told by an earlier associate, Frenchman Thierry Guetta, who tapes artists in action.

Banksy has become world famous for illegal outdoor graffiti, including painting the West Bank barrier and leaving a life-size figure of a Guantanamo Bay detainee at the California theme park Disneyland -- both documented in the film.

He uses satire in his works, tackling politics and culture.

Banksy, who has the directing credit for the 87-minute film, allows the Frenchman to film him working provided he shows only his hands and his back. Some footage of Banksy is in the film, including the artist's Disneyland episode and narrow escape.   Continued...