'White Walls Say Nothing' Plans to Paint the Screens
Kickstarter for local doc about Buenos Aires street artists
By Richard Whittaker, 8:34PM, Sun. Oct. 28, 2012
Austin has its fair share of iconic murals but, according to the film makers behind White Walls Say Nothing, the street artists of Buenos Aries in Argentina have created a whole culture and political movement around their public pieces. Now they're trying to finish the movie, and are looking for Kickstarter supporters to finish the project.
The documentary, co-directed by Gates Bradley, charts how the street artists have become a key part of Argentina's political activism. They flourished as dissidents under the military dictatorship of the 1980s, but then gained a new role binding an ailing community together in the economic collapse of the last decade. The doc still needs to do more filming, and the $32,000 the film makers are looking for will cover travel, insurance, and equipment hire.
After Bradley spent six years in Austin, much of it with local film collective Super!Alright, he moved to Buenos Aries (cue dramatic irony: His co-producer, Carolina Peredo is an Argentinian living in Austin.) In Argentina, he discovered a network of former Texans. Through them, he met an English ex-pat Jonny Robson, co-founder of GrafittiMundo, an art collective and non-profit that introduces tourists and residents to the city's street art. He was Bradley's point of entry too. He said, "The more I learned about the story, the more I thought this is a story that needed to be shared with the wider world."
In America, whether a piece is considered street art and graffiti depends on either the kindness of wall owners or the speed of the artist. In Argentina, Bradley said, "It lives in this grey area, and it's one of the reasons why Argentinian society is fascinating to me. It's not criminalized, it's not legal, but I think people are just happy to see other people expressing themselves." Many view it as "a reclamation of spaces. If you're trying to create something beautiful, more power to you."
In the politically and socially conscious work of his subjects, he sees spiritual links to other movements like Occupy. "People around the world are feeling relegated and like they don't have a voice. The resilience of the Argentinians in the face of the last forty years is really inspiring."
The film has been a two year labor of love. Bradley said, "Since May, I've quit my job and I've been doing this full time. I've been burning through may savings." That's where Kickstarter comes in: The film is closing in fast on its deadline of 10pm on Oct. 31, but it's also within easy distance of its funding target. You can donate via their Kickstarter page.