After the last two events from #adidasunderground festivities celebrated music with the help of illustrious folks like The Stone Roses, Factory Floor and more, the attention of last night’s gathering moved to the sublime art of graffiti. Arts-based company Moniker Projects partnered with #adidasunderground in order to invite the crowd to witness an exclusive cinematic experience which included a screening of short films from artists and curators Futura, Retna and Aaron Rose as well as the UK premiere of A Love Letter For You, the latest film by renowned director Joey Garfield.
The expansive #adidasunderground venue in Shoreditch, London transformed yet again into an 180-seat location, which provided an adequate cinema setting graced with drinks, an assortment of snacks, a popcorn machine, and an urban sound-boosting DJ set. After opening its doors at around 7:00 p.m., the attending crowd quickly turned into a full capacity audience as the screening started at 8:30 p.m. The shorts, which were produced by Crane.tv, followed icons Futura and Retna pondering on their respective personal interpretations of graffiti as an art form as well as a lifestyle and progressive evolution. After this inspirational insight, the viewing of the film A Love Letter For You commenced. The piece centered around notorious graffiti legend, Stephen “ESPO” Powers, who returns to his native West Philadelphia to paint a series of murals on 50 rooftops along the Market train line. Seamlessly blending the styles of documentary and narrative, the film finds ESPO confronted by the conflict between art and crime, love and loss, and solidarity, which perfectly hints at the nature of his work that often blurred the lines between illegal and legal. The piece concluded with a personal message to from Powers himself, who could not personally attend last night’s premiere. The screening was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session, chaired by author and curator Cedar Lewishon and director Joey Garfield, who offered his personal impressions and recount of creating this genre defying film.
We had a chance to sit down shortly following the film’s conclusion with director Joey Garfield to get some personal insight into the initial motivation and production process of the film.
Can you tell us a bit about your motivation behind A Love Letter For You?
What motivated us was the opportunity to make a film that was more than a typical documentary. We wanted it to resonate with the larger message of the whole A Love Letter For You project. In order to do that we needed to really sink into the neighborhood of West Philadelphia for the summer, which was cool because the more you spend time somewhere the more that place opens up to you.
What kind of difficulties did you have to face while filming in West Philadelphia?
We made a point of mixing non-actors with local talent and having some people play themselves, which made the experience really raw and we got some very unique perspectives. The hardest thing was everything. I guess to be more specific I think what was hard for Steve was to secure the wall space, I mean this literally – some of the rooftops were crumbling. But also legally it was a pain and this was with full support of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Foundation. From a production standpoint the hardest thing for me was anticipating where to shoot next and making sure the ladder used to get on the roof was still there when we needed to get down. Also Philly summers are HOT. Come September you can watch this film in the cool comfort of your own home but keep in mind everyday of that shoot was HOT. Like rooftop tar sticking to your feet hot.