In 1999, director Jon Reiss brought the electronic/rave scene to audiences with the documentary feature Better Living Through Circuitry. Reiss now returns with another kinetic documentary, this time exploring the controversial art of graffiti in Bomb It. Shot with vivid colors and set to an energetic soundtrack, the film investigates the history of graffiti while profiling artists all over the globe. Featuring old school legends and current favorites such as Taki 183, Cornbread, Stay High 149, T-Kid, Cope 2, Zephyr, Revs, Os Gemeos, KET, Chino, Shepard Fairey, Revok, and Mear One, the production shot in the United States, Europe, Africa, Latin America and Japan. Rather than just a slide show of graffiti examples, Bomb It is an explosive kaleidoscope of artists showing where the state of public space and personal voice sometimes clash and coexist. From sunny townships to dark serpentine tunnels, the film takes audiences along for the ride on guerrilla tagging missions and painting parties.

Bomb It premieres in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 tonight with a run that ends June 12. In this interview, Reiss talks about the diverse scenes he captured along with the unending need for people throughout history to write on walls.

This documentary is very comprehensive with so many portraits of different graffiti artists. Did you know any of the artists before you started?

I didn’t know anything about graffiti before I started. I was actually writing a feature film about graffiti because someone had seen Better Living Through Circuitry and thought, “He’s the subculture guy, he should write about graffiti.” I was always kind of interested in graffiti but I didn’t know anything about it. I was telling this DJ who was part of Better Living about it and she said, “I’m a [graffiti] writer and I know a bunch of writers. I’ll introduce you once you are in New York.” So I brought a camera and did a few interviews, I immediately saw that there was a lot of depth to the culture that isn’t apparent when you see it on the street. That intrigued me.

Gilberto Topczewski © Bomb It LLC 2006

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