USA | 2017 | 78 min | English
In 1978 nascent artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was a teenager living on the streets of New York’s East Village and sleeping on friends’ sofas. Boom for Real takes a comprehensive look at the many aspects of the bankrupt, crumbling city that inspired him—from politics to hip hop, punk rock, race issues and the art scene. It also features interviews with Jean-Luc’s friends, lovers and collaborators, including embryologist Alexis Adler who, in 1979, gave him a key to her apartment, where he found a safe place to stay and explore his talents. Alexis proceeded to store away a treasure trove of Jean-Michel’s art and writings, along with more than 150 photographs she took of him at work, goofing around and hanging out. Although the documentary features archival footage of Jean- Michel, director Sara Driver withholds one thing—we never hear his voice, thus making his presence in the film all the more spectral.
Born in 1955, Sara Driver is an independent filmmaker from New Jersey, US. She graduated in theatre and classics from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1977 and was later awarded a master’s in fine arts from New York University’s Graduate Film Program. As a participant in Lower Manhattan’s independent film scene from the late 1970s onwards, Sara gained recognition as the producer of two early films by Jim Jarmusch—Permanent Vacation (1980) and Stranger Than Paradise (1984). She has also directed the short film You Are Not I (1981) and two features, Sleepwalk (1986) and When Pigs Fly (1993). “Jean-Michel Basquiat was not only an extraordinary and prolific artist,” Sara says, “but also broke open a very closed and elitist white art world. I like to think of him as a cross between Rimbaud and Mozart—a brilliant and poetic prankster whose creative impulses were on fire.”