In the late 1990s, a hybrid form of graffiti began appearing in cities around the world. Enlisting stickers, stencils, posters, and sculpture and spread by the burgeoning Internet, it would be labeled “street art” and establish itself as the most significant counterculture movement of a generation. Los Angeles–based filmmaker Terry Guetta set out to record this secretive world in all its thrilling detail. For more than eight years, he traveled with the pack, roaming the streets of America and Europe, the stealthy witness of the world’s most infamous vandals. But after meeting the British stencil artist known only as “Banksy,” things took a bizarre turn.
Sundance has shown films by unknown artists but never an anonymous one. Banksy turns the tables on the only man who has ever filmed him, creating a remarkable documentary that is part personal journey and part an exposé of the art world with its mind-altering mix of hot air and hype. In the end, Exit Through the Gift Shop is an amazing ride, a cautionary modern fairy tale . . . with bolt cutters.