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Sara Driver is an artist and filmmaker. She's a part of the Manhattan independent filmmaking renaissance that the city underwent through the late 1970s through the 1990s. When we spoke with the director and actor in 2018, she had just released a new documentary called Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The movie shows a side of one of the great 20th century artists not often seen, a savvy young upstart painting on the walls all over Manhattan's Lower East Side.
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An artist herself, Driver lived and worked in the same art community that propelled Basquiat to stardom. And because of that, Boom For Real kind of tells two stories. There's the story of Basquiat, who shows up in archival footage but never speaks. And there's New York City. Pre-9/11, pre-Reagan, pre-real estate boom New York City. Boom for Real strikes a careful balance between nostalgia and danger, between nuance and hero worship.
The filmmaker discusses what it felt like to capture on film a New York of old, particularly for working artists, and why passing a new Whole Foods makes her nostalgic for the past.
Sara Driver currently appears in Jim Jarmusch's The Dead Don't Die.