Exit Through the Gift Shop, the street-art documentary credited to Banksy, was one of the best films of 2010, and also one of the most challenged on the basis of authenticity. The film purports to chronicle the street art of Banksy and Shepard Fairey through the lens of a camera held by wealthy dilettante artist Thierry Guetta. At least that’s the basis for part of the film, before Banksy turned the cameras on Guetta as the latter became a wannabe artist named Mr. Brainwash.

Is the film ‘real’? Is Mr. Brainwash an actual practicing artist or part of a long con perpetrated by Banksy for the purpose of documentary satire? The story is so strange some assumed it couldn’t be true.

Now Ron English, another street artist with connections to Banksy, says the film is definitely real, and that it was born when Guetta refused to turn over hundreds of hours of video he’d shot of Fairey and Banksy in action. Read More »

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The issue of Banksy‘s anonymity isn’t the only point of contention hanging over this coming Sunday’s Oscar festivities. The artist-turned-filmmaker’s picture, Exit Through the Gift Shop, is anticipated to take home the award for Best Documentary, but is it actually a documentary? That niggling concern has resulted in much debate ever since the film’s first screening at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and now more than ever, the need for cogent confirmation on the matter has become something of a necessity.

This raises the question: Where has Mr. Brainwash been throughout all of this? Banksy recently spoke out about the veracity of the film, proclaiming that it’s “100% true”. It’s no surprise that he’d make such a claim; he directed the film. But what of the man whose image could have conceivably been tarnished by the film? Where does he stand regarding the film’s authenticity, and does he constitute a credible source? Read what he had to say after the break.
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Last week it was announced that Exit through the Gift Shop is one of five films nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. This week we’ve begun to hear reports that Banksy (the credited director of the street art documentary) is beginning his award campaign the only way he knows how to — street art. Or could this be the work of Mr. Brainwash? This looks a bit too sloppy to be a Banksy production, and MBW has been using Stormtroopers in his work recently. What do you think?

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