Explosive Graffiti Film Quality of Life Opens Theatrically in LA at Laemmle’s Fairfax 3
Friday, May 26, 2006

(Los Angeles, CA) - Quality of Life, the explosive film that spins a gripping narrative tale around the controversy regarding the legitimacy of “street art” and laws that criminalize it, makes its LA bow on Friday, May 26, 2006 with an exclusive engagement at Laemmle’s Fairfax 3.  Shot on location in San Francisco's Mission District, Quality of Life sheds light on a clandestine graffiti subculture, with an authentic and riveting story of two young taggers who struggle to maintain their friendship as their lives unravel and the cops close in.  “As deceptively modest and quietly ambitious as its urban working-class hero.” (Village Voice).  Laemmle’s Fairfax 3 is located at 7907 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048.  For more information please call 323-655-4010 or visit http://www.laemmle.com/viewmovie.php?mid=2094. For information on the film please visit www.qualityoflife-themovie.com.

 

Independently made and distributed, Quality of Life is a dramatic feature that takes its title from the infamous expression used by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani to equate graffiti with murder, as crimes on a “continuum of disorder.” Few in the art world, however, discount a street art scene that inspired mainstream icons like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and its own thriving – now global – counterculture. Praised for its authenticity, stand-out performances in the film include Lane Garrison as the conflicted Mikey "Heir" Rosario and newcomer Brian Burnam as the destructive Curtis "Vain" Smith. Quality of Life is the feature film debut for both.

 

Quality of Life just won the first MySpace Film Users Choice Contest and reigned there as the Top Filmmaker for over five weeks.

 

Synopsis

By day, graffiti writers "Heir" and "Vain" work their dead-end jobs, while at night they inhabit the underground graffiti world of San Francisco's Mission District. After a clash with the law, they find their lives spinning out of control with potentially explosive consequences. This affecting film offers a rare glimpse into the graffiti subculture, where the two young writers struggle to maintain their friendship as their lives unravel and the cops close in.

 

The Filmmaker

Director Benjamin Morgan has spent over a decade as a government social worker, working within the Bay Area juvenile system. A former at-risk kid himself, Morgan’s connection to the underground youth of today accentuates the film’s cinema verite style. Says Morgan, “Quality of Life is a story about people trying to do the best they can with what they have. It reveals the story behind the writing on the walls...I set out to make this film to expose the absurdity of so-called ‘quality of life’ laws (which lump graffiti in with drugs, prostitution and general urban blight). The tough-on-crime political climate has become endemic in the United States. After working in the juvenile justice and mental health fields for over a decade, I became frustrated with the systemic flaws inherent in youth programs, specifically the tendency to focus on symptoms (rather than causes).”

 

Soundtrack/Fests/DVD/Book

The film, propelled by a cutting edge hip-hop and alternative rock soundtrack featuring Modest Mouse, Mr. Lif, and Built to Spill (due out in mid-August through Relentless, distributed by Bayside), screened at the Berlin International Film Festival (2004) where it received the Special Mention Jury Award, at the Stockholm Junior International Film Festival (2005) where it won the Best Youth Film Prize, sold out screenings at the San Francisco Film Arts Festival of Independent Cinema (2004), the Gijon International Film Festival (2004), the Cinequest Film Festival (2004), and the Seattle International Film Festival (2004). Now setting theaters ablaze, the DVD release is scheduled for June 2006, and a book in August chronicling the film’s unabashedly DIY model by indie phenom Soft Skull Press, the momentum fuelling Quality of Life’s rise on the cultural landscape shows no signs of stopping – or slowing down – any time soon.

 

Quality of Life, a Relentless Company release, runs 85 minutes, is in English and is MPAA rated ‘R’.

 

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Link to High-Res Stills: http://www.qualityoflife-themovie.com/download/stills.html

 

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Please Note

Here are a few key graffiti-related press links that may be of interest. Some of the news stories touch upon the over-the-top anti-graffiti penalizations, which are quite common.  These kinds of incidents are happening in every major city on the planet.

 

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/06/AR2006050600970.html?nav=rss_print/asection

Here's a graffiti-related article, from Miami.  The exact same thing happened with one of the guys that worked on QoL.  He was asked by a store owner to do a beautiful piece on their storefront, with fruits, vegetables, etc. Once it was done, the cops came and cited the store owner for graffiti and said they had to paint over it -- even though it was commissioned and legal!!

 

The cops basically said it was illegal because it was done in a graffiti-style and that would encourage illegal graffiti, so they issued a citation.  Same situation as in this Miami article.

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http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00E10FA3A5B0C718CDDAC0894DE404482

In a May 6th NY Times artictle.  It’s the follow-up to the NYC case brought by Marc Ecko.

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http://www.sfbg.com/38/07/news_graffiti.html

Filmmakers’ friend Dave Lieberman (who plays the stick-up kid in the film) was facing 18-21 months in STATE PRISON for graffiti while they were shooting the film. (Believe it or not, he was initially charged with Patriot Act crimes for his graffiti exploits!)

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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9927522/

Las Vegas mayor proposed cutting off the thumbs if convicted graffiti vandals. (Not Enron execs, of course.)

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http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/e/a/1998/04/29/EDITORIAL1881.dtl

 &hw=tie+one+graffiti&sn=001&sc=1000

A young SF graffiti writer was shot and killed at point blank by a vigilante. The killer walked.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060422/ap_on_hi_te/air_force_one_hoax

Tagging Air Force One. Clothing entrepreneur Marc Ecko did a huge viral internet campaign over this one.

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"Extraordinary"

Berlin International Film Festival Jury (WINNER - Special Mention)

 

"Supreme acting and great music...captivating"

Stockholm International Film Festival Jr. Jury (WINNER - Best Youth Film)

 

"A powerful and emotionally satisfying film"

- Jane Ganahl, San Francisco Chronicle

 

"Well-acted, sharply observed and authentically gritty"

- New York Magazine

 

“High Quality…Impressive”

- Vince Musetto, New York Post

 

“Skillful storytelling”

- Nathan Lee, New York Times

 

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Mikey and Curtis were Outlaws, But How Great Was Their Crime?

Neorealist Film Takes to the Streets Where Art and Crime are the Same

For more details or to set up interviews, please contact Lynn Hasty from Green Galactic at 213-840-1201 or lynn@greengalactic.com or Mickey Cottrell from Inclusive PR at micottrell@earthlink.net or 323 460-4111. As it is now so close to the release, DVDs will be provided for select working media, so let us know if you can review or will consider a feature.  Thanks!