Exit Through the Gift Shop

Banksy (2010)

Last Featured: Jan. 14, 2015

Image Credits: Paranoid Pictures

This Oscar-nominated doc is a captivating introduction into the world of street artists, including the notorious Banksy, who quite possibly orchestrated the whole film as an elaborate prank. 

Our guess is that your opinion of street art depends on whether you’re in a position to appreciate it, or if you’re responsible for washing it off the buildings and signs turned canvases.

The footage in Exit Through the Gift Shop was allegedly shot by Thierry Guetta, a French entrepreneur who records his entire life on a video camera. Much of the film consists of Guetta’s archived footage of the rise of street art. Most notably, though, the film is insightfully narrated and edited by the secretive and celebrated street artist who goes by the moniker Banksy. Banksy has parlayed his notorious street art into a fortune while remaining totally anonymous—he even obscures his face and alters his voice whenever they appear in his own film.

We say the footage was “allegedly shot” by Guetta because questions of authenticity linger around much of the movie’s production. Some insist that Guetta is actually Banksy, and there have been accusations that the whole thing is a hoax. Banksy himself admits that “maybe…art is a bit of a joke,” so many doubters feel validated in their claims that this may just be another Banksy piece.

This Oscar-nominated documentary explores the morally gray area of street art and gives a human face to the creations that many city dwellers see every day. Their art possesses a rare kind of beauty; it’s controversial, bold, and ephemeral, and it’s bound fast to the hype that leads to commercial success. The really fun part of this remarkable film is deciding what is hype and what, in the end, is art.