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Tivoli Films
Tivoli: Downtown 81

Downtown 81

72 minutes, 1981
In English
This curious delight is a narrative with a slight plot about Jean-Michel Basquiat wandering through Manhattan’s Lower East Side during the heyday of graffiti art, post punk and new wave music. It seems Basquiat has been thrown out of his apartment and must walk the streets with one of his paintings to see if someone will buy it so he can pay rent for a new apartment.

He meets various real life characters of the era including Debbie Harry and Fab 5 Freddy. All are involved in dreamy vignettes of life in the 1981 New York art scene. The film features music and performances by Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Tuxemodoon, The Plastics, DNA, the Lounge Lizards and music by Basquiat himself and his band, Gray. A glimpse of one of the most fascinating artists of his generation as well as a slice of life from one of the most exciting periods of American culture that spawned new wave music, graffiti art and hip hop.

The film was thought lost but in 2000 the film negative was discovered without sound. The creators of the film had to round up everyone who appeared in the film and post dub their dialogue with the exception of Jean Michel Basquiat who had passed away in 1988. His dialogue was dubbed by Saul Williams.

This is a look at the art scene in the early 80’s before AIDS, MTV and corporatization of art decimated the last great art scene of the 20th century.


7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Also shows Dec 2
$10 per person
$7 | Members