As pervasive as he is elusive, Banksy is a global enigma that incites a lot of #feels among everyone familiar with his artwork—from fans to the police. But in 2004, the clandestine artist pissed off one supporter in particular: Andy Link, a former porn star who now goes by AK47 and heads up an “art terrorist organization” called Art Kieda. The story goes that Link wanted a signed Banksy print at an event, but didn’t want to cough up the extra dough. Link asked Banksy to sign his standard edition, to which the Dismaland artist refused. The fact he wouldn’t sign his “fucking print” both infuriated and inspired Link, who decided to reciprocate the message by stealing Banksy’s statue, The Drinker.
The convoluted saga—which includes ransom letters, another heist and a replica of the original—has been unraveled in the gonzo-style documentary, The Banksy Job, which recently debuted at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. With so much turmoil happening in the flick, we asked British director Dylan Harvey (who co-created the film with Ian Roderick Gray) to tell us a little more about its origins.
It seems like you were involved in filming the heist from Day 1, so how did this project initially develop or how did you get involved in filming so early on?
Actually the heist happened about five years before we even got to hear about it. We just met a mad man calling himself AK47 who explained his story, showed us the videos he had shot himself over the years and notified us about where he is intending to go next with his venture. When we came in, all he had was a cone and a hard drive of footage and a certificate from the police.
Are you into street art or was making this film more about highlighting the characters?
I have always been interested in street art and Banksy. Spending many years living in East London it was all around me all the time and I saw it develop and grow. I loved it all as a form of dissent, but that alone is not enough to make a movie. It was meeting AK47 and finding out his story that gave us the opportunity to make a heist movie (that is also a documentary and a comedy).
AK47 seems like a legitimate lunatic. Was it difficult to work with him?
Yes and no. He is what you see on the screen so at times he could be extremely difficult, especially when trying to make the logistics work out, but at the same time he was very keen to get his story out there and once he recognized how were were going about telling his story and understood the scale of what we were doing, he was very compliant and also went above and beyond in trying to help us get the extra access and help where we needed it.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to work on an ambitious project where we installed the 10′ x 10′ set from Lenny Abrahamson’s film ‘ROOM‘ into a secretive gallery setting in a mall on the west side of Los Angeles. Originally intended on being closed to the public, this Saturday (11/21), A24 will be opening up the space for attendees of the 2:10pm screening of ROOM at the Landmark Theatres. If you’ve had the inkling to see this outstanding film, I’d recommend heading to this enhanced experience as it really puts the filmmaking and tight quarters into perspective.
All of the movies worth watching in theaters this weekend
A documentary examining the lives of seven unique New Yorkers whose eclectic personal style and vital spirit have guided their approach to aging. Based on Ari Seth Cohen’s famed blog of the same name, this film paints intimate and colorful portraits of independent, stylish women aged 62 to 95 who are challenging conventional ideas about beauty, aging, and Western’s culture’s increasing obsession with youth.
Partnering with A24 Films, we are celebrating the release of Kevin Smith’s new film TUSK in a very nontraditional way. Keying in on the director’s admission that the film “was born in a blaze,” TWBE has created packaging inspired by the film for two rebranded strains of medicinal marijuana. Named ‘Mr. Tusk’ and ‘White Walrus’, and available through September 26th, these strains of pot have been grown by Kushman Veganics as “Veganic Chernobyl (GT)” and “Kens OG” for Buds & Roses, one of Los Angeles’s oldest and most respected dispensaries. Accompanying this in-store promotion, limited edition herb grinders bearing the Tusk logo will be given away to patients of the dispensary and fans of the film (18+ years of age). And what would all of this be without a user-generated contest? Starting September 10th and running until the release of Tusk on September 19th, we’ll be asking fans to submit to instagram their best pictures of #WalrusBreath, which is most easily described as “the act of creating tusks by blowing smoke or vapor out of one’s nostrils.”
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