In 1970s NYC, photographer Martha Cooper captured some of the first images of graffiti at a time when the city had declared war on the new artform and the neighborhoods where it originated. Decades later, Cooper has become an influential godmother to a global movement of street artists.
For starters, I truly enjoyed this film. Nostalgia would be an understatement when trying to express what this film generated deep within my soul. As a native NYer who lived through the era(s) covered in this open, engaging and educational documentary, YES… I can honestly say there was something magical and captivating about graffiti art. Looked down upon and judged as something only “thugs” would embark on, part of the culture, attitude and vibe that was NYC was birthed in the same neighborhoods shattered by government neglect.
Martha, however, saw deeper than just art on train cars and walls. She saw neighborhoods and people with a purpose and something to say. Giving it life and meaning, the same artists she encountered back then as kids (predominantly in the Bronx) have been given a platform and voice decades later as adults in “A Picture Story” to express the cause of the art and the respect and acceptance they all had for Martha when it all started. Due to Martha’s enthusiasm and passion to tell stories through a camera lens, the film also covers her history and drive for photography, as well as the struggles when trying to expose an urban movement frowned upon in the U.S. yet embraced and welcomed across the globe in places like Germany, France and Brazil. Who to this day, credit Martha for spreading one of the most unique forms of art ever to exist. Having garnered so much respect across the world for her work, “Martha: A Picture Story” is a real-life version of a “Beat Street” artist.
Director: Selina Miles
Tribeca Film Page: https://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/martha-2019