Julius Onah is directing a forthcoming feature film about legendary 1980s street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Kevin Harrison Jr. will play Basquiat in the film, titled Samo Lives after the artist's graffiti tag "Samo." Portishead's Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury will compose the score. From ARTnews:
In an extensive Director's Statement on a website for Samo Lives, Onah writes, "Simply put, Jean-Michel Basquiat's work and life has been an absolute inspiration. When I began to learn about him at the age of 14 it was incredible to discover someone who boldly forged his own path into a world where most who didn't fit the expected profile of a fine artist had been unable to (i.e. white and male). Though I could not yet fully appreciate the enormity of what Jean-Michel's achievements meant, I could certainly feel there was something so groundbreaking and unique about them."
He goes on to attribute part of his learning about the artist to the 1996 biographical film Basquiat, directed by painter Julian Schnabel. "But the older I got and the more I learned about Jean-Michel," Onah writes, "the more I began to feel his story hadn't fully been told in cinema. Never have we seen the full spectrum of Basquiat's incredible life as a Black artist and a child of the immigrant African diaspora."
Excerpt of "ART/new york program no. 30A: Jean-Michel Basquiat":