Beautiful Losers

Last night I finally got the chance to see a movie that’s been literally haunting me for the last few months — Beautiful Losers. A while ago a came across the synopsis of the documentary — the story of a group of outsider and street artists with sketchy backgrounds and even more esoteric attitudes to the more established art scene. Ever since I first heard about it I have scoured the internet for details of how I would get to see this movie. When I spotted it on the programme for this year’s BFI London Film Festival the tickets were swiftly ordered.

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The brainchild of film-maker and curator Aaron Rose, the Beautiful Losers show revolves around the work of a group of artists, musicians and film-makers brought together by the love of making it themselves. What started as a place to hang out with each other and drink became an increasingly important gallery for emerging talent in 90s New York.

After interviewing over 70 creatives involved in the project, Aaron and his co-director had the unenviable task of sifting through the footage and telling the stories of just 12 of those people. The result of that effort is a tightly edited documentary in which each artist is given time to bring their work and thoughts to life.

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Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. The film is far from perfect — others have noted that it skirts the issue of commercialism in their work and their attitudes towards it, as many were picked up by large corporations as their fame developed. There’s also a distinct lack of sculpture on show which was explained by Aaron in the post-movie Q&A being down to the fact that “we don’t like sculpture.”

But ultimately this is an incredibly uplifting, colourful and inspiring romp around the streets of New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco with a very likeable bunch of characters. There are many genuinely funny moments throughout and you’ll find yourself wanting to walk out of the cinema and pick up a paintbrush almost immediately, their enthusiasm is just superbly infectious.