Banksy is undoubtedly the world's most famous street artist - that's the job title they have given themselves instead of graffitists in an attempt to decriminalize their efforts - known for intricate stenciled art with social and political messages. He is based in England, but has decorated buildings and structures around the world.


He has never shown his face in public and only a few confidants knows what he looks like, he works while wearing a Balaclava mask so that photo's only show a ninja-like person painting a building, usually at night. What Banksy does is, in just about every country, considered a crime which is why he prefers anonymity. England has been lenient, even granting that many of his works be preserved on the buildings.


No so much in other countries, especially the United States. In most cases, the art is painted over by the building owner. Or it is removed, packaged and sold at auction for high profits.

Colin Day brings to light the business of selling Banksy's street art without Banksy's permission and without Banksy getting one thin dime of the money. The film in particular is about one such piece in San Francisco which was being preserved before the building owner painted over it.


Brian Greif, a local collector diligently negotiates with the building owner and "others" who popped up with sudden interest (once they found out it was a Banksy) to have the art removed. Naturally the building owner wanted more money, then the construction workers wanted more because they had to suddenly work on substructure to get that section of the wall off.


After getting the art off the building before the city deadline Greif had to store the painting for over a year as he haggled with various museums about giving it to them as a gift. That becomes a bigger headache than yanking the art off the building.


In the meantime British art dealer Steve Lazarides is making efforts to get hold of the piece so that he can sell it for hundreds of thousands of dollars. He has made a fortune off Banksy, especially presenting his work during the popular Art Miami expo. Director Day brings attention to the huge amounts of money street artists in general miss out on when their free street art is ripped off and sold without their defense.


Structurally, the film is basically a bunch of talking heads, but the story is so compelling you get completely drawn into the high stakes involved.


"Saving Banksy" is a great follow-up to Banksy's own 2010 film "Exit Through The Gift Shop" which brought even more attention to this gifted street artist whose fame comes from an illegal act and who can't defend his work because he would have to admit to his crime!   -- GEOFF BURTON