Scene from the making of the film WHOLETRAIN, which was shot in Poland
Graffiti fans should make a point of attending the California screenings of the powerful new European graffiti themed feature film WHOLETRAIN that screens this evening (Feb 24) in San Francisco at the Goethe-Institut and on Monday (March 1st) at the same institution's center in Los Angeles. After the screenings in each city director Florian Gaag will be on hand for a Q&A session.
Gaag's first feature, WHOLETRAIN was shot in Poland, has English subtitles and has already been a film festival fave. It tells the story of a tight knit crew of graffiti writers, Tino, David, Elyas and Achim, who go through a lot of troubles (including run-ins with the law and a growing feud with a rival graf crew) in pursuit of their art.
WHOLETRAIN is full of wonderful, memorable scenes like the one where Tino (convincingly played by Florian Renner) is trying to persuade his friend and ever-frowning crew mate David (played by Mike Adler), who is on his last strike with the authorities, to go back out that night on an important train "bombing" mission in which they have a final opportunity to prove their worth against the rival graf crew.
If they miss this last chance, "We look like a finger painting group. Unless we do a wholetrain, we can battle housewives in the local drawing class," warns Tino.
The title of the film, WHOLETRAIN, as you probably guessed, comes from the writers' goal of doing an entire train completely in graffiti from end to end. Dramatic and gripping, this film will have you fully engaged (even if you are not already a graffiti fan) for both the drama's well-paced story line (played by a stellar young cast of unknowns to American audiences) and, not surprisingly, the film's fantastic graffiti art on trains and walls (all tirelessly commissioned by the director, clearly a major graffiti fan, to be done by such established artists as PURE, NEON, WON, CEMNOZ, and CIEL), all of which was wonderfully shot and lovingly edited. The talented director Gaag not only made the film but also produced its accompanying soundtrack, producing all the beats himself and bringing in such American hip-hop artists as KRS-One, Freddie Foxxx, O.C., Planet Asia, Afu-Ra, Grand Agent, Tame One, Akrobatik and El Da Sensei to supply the graffiti themed vocals.
Earlier today, not long after arriving in San Francisco, I caught up with Gaag to ask him if it was a deliberate choice to work exclusively with American artists on the soundtrack. "It wasn't so much about them being American but about working with artists I always wanted to work with. And I chose most of them for their links with the culture," he replied. In one scene, shot in Tino's bedroom (which looks like it is set in the late 80's or early 90's), there are two latter 80's hip-hop albums (BDP and Stetsasonic) clearly on display. I asked Gaag if it was supposed to be the late 80's or what the exact time and city that film was supposed to be set in. "WHOLETRAIN is set in a fictional city and the year could be anytime," answered the filmmaker, whose in depth interview will be featured here on the Amoeblog in June when both the DVD and soundtrack will be available to buy at Amoeba Music. Meantime, go see this film tonight in SF or Monday in LA.
Tonight's screening is at 6:30pm at Goethe-Institut building at 530 Bush St. San Francisco, CA 94108. 415.263.8760. And the LA screening is at 7pm next Monday (March 1st) at the Goethe-Institut at 5750 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 100, Los Angeles CA 323.525.3388. While both are listed as free screenings, the organization hosting the event asks for a donation -- typically $7 and $4 for students. Note that the film director and soundtrack producer Florian Gaag will be attending both screenings for Q+A sessions. Below is a trailer for the film.