Film Scouts Reviews

"Kids of Survival"

by Karen Jaehne

A documentary filmed in the South Bronx of New York over three years, this is a realist's "Basquiat" in the ghetto. Tim Rollins is an artist and guru who transforms a select group of kids' non-conformist attitudes and natural talent into art. Some of the works are quite good - anti-establishment mural-size canvases that owe more to Rollins' organization than to graffiti and are good enough to get into a major Soho gallery.

The kids learn the tough lessons of the art world - a show that makes no money, critics who turn against them after setting them up as The New Phenomenon, lack of inspiration, etc. One of the kids is killed, and the group has to make sense of the senselessness of that. We hear from ideologues who think Tim Rollins is too white or that not enough kids are being saved from life on the streets. Hey, folks, it's a start.

The most impressive thing is Tim Rollins' iron-clad discipline. If the kids don't come to the studio and work, they're not artists, therefore they're no longer part of K.O.S. It's that simple. Art is something you have to do, not a languishing life style. It's admirable and even correct in going beyond the cute hopefulness of art as a social movement.

Filmmakers Geller and Goldfine let the art speak for itself and pursue the workings of the studio - how do kids relate to each other, how do they unify their talents, how do they quarrel or make decisions? They've achieved an insight into one method of rescue that ought to serve as a beacon for people wondering how to help kids survive. Good work!

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