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52nd edition

Downtown 81

Fortnight 2000, Feature film, 1h15


Downtown 81 is a feature film starring the legendary American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) shot in 1981. Basquiat was a 19 year-old painter, graffiti artist, poet and musician. The film, depicts the exciting downtown New York art and music scene of the winter of 1980-81. In 1981, Basquiat had yet to have his first gallery exhibition. The film is a day in the life of a young artist, who draws and paints his famous »SAMO » graffiti and needs to sell a painting to reclaim the apartment from which he has been evicted. Then, he wanders from club to club, looking for the beautiful girl he met earlier, so he’ll have a place to spend the night. Basquiat is a natural actor; his coolness is in contrast to the fictional « Basquiat ». The cast includes Deborah Harry, and bands of the era: Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Coati Mundi, DNA, James White and the Blacks, Tuxedo Moon, Walter Steding. Also heard on the soundtrack: Gray, Basquiat’s band and John Lurie. Downtown 81 not only captures one of the most important artists of the twentieth century as he is poised for frame, but also captures one of the most vital periods in American culture, with the explosion of new wave music, new painting, hip hop and graffiti.


Edo Bertoglio

Born in 1951, Bertoglio gratuated with a degree of the CLCF, Film School in Paris. He moved to London in 1975, then to New York where he worked from 1976 to 1990 as a photographer and artistic director for magazines like Look, Vogue, Vanity, QG, Cult or Spin. From 1976 to 1982, for Interview of Andy Warhol, he directed with Maripol reports on artists and groups from New York Downtown. He directed many sleeves for Warner Bros, Arista, Atlantic Records. He made photographs of important persons such as Blondie, Madonna etc In 1990, he got back to Switzerland where he produced and directed TV programmes and advertising. Downtown 81 is his first full length movie.

David Mc Dermott
Deborah Harry
Jean-Michel Basquiat

Glenn O’Brien

John Mc Nulty

Robert Mayer

Pamela French

Set decoration

Production :
Maripol Fauque
New York Beat Films
640 Broadway #9W, New York
NY 10012, Etats-Unis
tél : (1 212) 460 5543
fax : (1 212) 475 5203 

Vente à l’étranger :
Celluloïd Dreams
24 rue Lamartine
75009 Paris, France
tél : 33 (0)1 49 70 03 70
fax : 33 (0)1 49 70 03 71

Presse française :
Annie Maurette
tél.: 33 (0)1 40 33 35 14

Presse internationale :
Richard Lormand
tél.: 33 (0)1 48 04 51 73