Nic Hill's first feature "Piece by Piece" is an excellent overview of two decades' graffiti in San Francisco -- and, while the legal consequences are duly addressed, partisan pic makes no bones about viewing graffiti as an art form rather than a public nuisance.
Nic Hill’s first feature “Piece by Piece” is an excellent overview of two decades’ graffiti in San Francisco — and, while the legal consequences are duly addressed, partisan pic makes no bones about viewing graffiti as an art form rather than a public nuisance. Regional focus may limit theatrical interest, but dynamically assembled docu deserves a chance to connect with younger, hip hop-savvy audiences at fests, rep cinemas and other specialized outlets. It should prove a long-term cult fave among aficionados on DVD.
Positing San Francisco as “the style capital of the U.S.”–though New York City and Los Angeles provided pioneering influences — feature celebrates particular artists and personalities, though many choose to keep their faces (and real names) obscured. About 20 “chapters” cover topics like “cholo writing” (leaving a signature tag), the “subterranean art galleries” opened up when quake-damaged buildings were razed, and Proposition 21, which made graffiti punishable as a felony. Using multiple film/video formats and amusing archival footage, often editing in synch to a terrific soundtrack by DJ Qbert and others, pic’s own aesthetic amplifies the brash, streetwise nature of its subjects.