The Man Who Stole Banksy (2018) Movie Script

You are welcome in Palestine,
Bethlehem City
The Holy Land, the place
where Jesus was born
This is my name, Walid The Beast
Did you hear about my story
when I cut the Banksy painting?
Among this destruction
you see these paintings
Shadows, they have meaning
They don't say anything
in terms of text
you have to figure it out
and this takes
some people's mind
No, I didn't see him when
he painted this picture
I didn't see him, really,
I don't know this man
The team was about 6 or 7 people
They changed their profiles
he changed his face
sometimes in a mask
sometimes with a moustache
sometimes with a beard,
He's a revolutionary
he's the ghost
He's like a legend
for the whole world now
They made an exhibition
called "Santa's Ghetto"
in Bethlehem
Actually I like the towers
because I see them everywhere
when I travel in the West Bank
but it's the first time that I
see them in a colorful way
I hope that the Israeli army
is influenced by this
Internationals started to come
not the Nativity Church
not to the refugee camps
but to the Banksy exhibition
When Banksy came to the city
for two weeks
and painted some pictures
it meant a lot for Palestinians
and Palestinians are happy
It shows the world
how we are oppressed
inside this area
and we can't go outside,
we can't move
Seven years ago, at this time
the city was full of people
You could see the streets
were full of tourists
from all over the world
they were coming
on pilgrimage to Bethlehem
Now we are in
the time of Christmas
it's about 8 days to Christmas
but you can see,
there's no people in the city
You can talk to
the people from here
and ask them
what they are feeling
about Christmas
and about the situation
in this area
You can feel that...
everything is not
correct in this area
Do you need any help?
Yes, what do you want?
Oh my God
What's this Banksy?
He's now very very famous
I was the first to meet him
in Manger square, over there
My name is Walid
Is this your stall?
Is this your stall here?
No, I am a taxi driver
I'm helping my friend
I help him, he's poor
I help him here,
he sells bananas
So what do you think
about all the graffiti?
This one?
Is this good?
The artist who made
these things?
Yes, who's this one?
This one is a friend of mine
his name is Nash,
he's from Chicago
he's a very famous artist
I helped him,
I brought the ladder for him
and he wrote my name over there
because I helped him
Is that you, Walid?
Yes, Walid The Beast
Every year there's something new
some artist coming, some...
and they speak, speak...
But I think there
will be no change
because this wall is forever
and nobody can touch it
I am a taxi driver,
this is my taxi
I hope Banksy will give me
money to buy a new one
because everyday
I have to go to the garage
When I met you at the checkpoint
and I said to you
This is my name, Walid The Beast
Have you known about me
for a long time, or...
No, but it's like we've
known you for a long time
Did you hear about my story
when I cut the Banksy painting?
I will tell you
about this bad story
On the main road of Bethlehem
he painted
"The Donkey with the Soldier"
and the soldier carries
the ID of the donkey
The painting was...
very ugly for the people
This motherfucker from London
A lot of people wanted
to destroy this painting
But we covered this piece
and we cut it
It was very difficult
to bring machines
to take it from the wall
On the left you see the mural
This way
Banksy was angry
about this story
but to come to a house
in Bethlehem
and to start to paint
and after we cut it
or destroy it
you're not allowed
to say anything
And you are welcome
When he painted
he was like a ninja
nobody knew him
The wall is very good
good concrete
What we are doing now
is a steel frame
to reinforce the concrete
so that when we move it out
it will be one piece
The boss who is
the owner of this piece
he's the boss,
I am one of his people
he said we want
to keep this piece
and we want to sell it
at our price
I was astonished
that you are going to carry
four tons of concrete
out of Bethlehem abroad
Until now I don't know
the idea behind it
this is something, I mean...
That's crazy
Four tons out of Bethlehem
in a concrete slab
What for?
Couldn't he draw this
anywhere else
on a piece of wood
or a carpet or whatever?
About the piece...
we want to sell it
Until then it's
with us in Bethlehem
in a safe place
They say:
"Palestinians are bad"
"they want to buy weapons"
"they want to fight Israel"
This is not at all true
The boss who is
the owner of this piece
he wants to support the church
he wants to give money
to all the people
who helped him to cut this piece
and he spent money
for this piece
of "The Donkey with the Soldier"
This is my fuel
This is the best
the king of body building
he's the king
eleven times Mr. Olympia
He pushed 1250 kg
machine legs
He's very old now
I was very thin
I was only 65 kg
Now I am 135 kg
It's a big change
And I like... I like
to change myself
If you want to feel full power
you have to think
of something very bad
Once, I remember
I was in a competition
and I saw all the people
"Walid! Walid!"
I had a lot of people
pushing me
I looked around
and I said to myself
"If I don't do this,
the Israeli soldiers will kill us all"
Like I had to save these people
from this bad thing
and I did it
I carried 235 kg
and I won
Wait, wait, wait my friend
Well, I am a merchant
in Bethlehem
A businessman you can say, also
I really did not like
the painting
I saw a donkey
and I saw an Israeli soldier
checking this donkey's
Palestinian ID
And it's like
he's calling us "donkeys"
This year
I put it on eBay
If you'd like to buy
this wall
we are ready to sell it to you
If you know ABC
about this country
you know people would
be offended by this
Have you considered it?
Have you been
critically assessing
what's the discourse
in this place
in relation to the people
to the context
to the history of this place?
Or it's like most
of the things around the place
it's like a fast food
approach to graffiti
a fast food approach to art
it's quick
it makes you feel bad afterwards
but at that time
it's very fulfilling
It gets all your
senses saturated
and then you leave
In the Palestinian culture
if you tell someone:
"You are a donkey"
it has negative implications
Although the donkey
is a great animal
The donkey
is a hard working animal
You will never be
cheated by a donkey
or betrayed by a donkey
In this case,
I wouldn't really worry
I know maybe older people
would take it seriously
but I think the younger
generation is taking over
The first time?
That's a hard question, man
The first time I did graffiti
we decided to make a piece
to protest the visit of Obama
so we made a French kiss
between Abu Mazen and Obama
and we covered the entire city
We had the stencil
and every ten metres
we sprayed
We were like: "Why don't
we do this all the time?"
The first time I learned
it was illegal to make graffiti
I said: "What?"
Here, when we do something
all the neighborhood
want you to make more
so you do it and run
not because it's illegal
you run because
you can't do one hundred
It started during
the first Intifada
there was
a political movement
and people needed to get
in contact with the locals
to have like one...
one voice
During the first Intifada
Palestinians didn't have
any control over the media
So how did they distribute
their political ideas?
It was through the walls
You just come and
write the message and...
and disappear
Our way of painting
we are not professional painters,
we use like simple materials
but the medium is
the message for us
If the soldiers check your house
and they find spray
this is a crime
they could put you
in jail for this
The Israeli army
used to actually stop
young people on the street
and ask them to
erase the sentences
written on the wall
They knock on the door
"Come and remove this"
"Remove what's written"
If you are living
in a conflict zone
everything can be
used as a weapon
It's not killing
but it raises awareness
it sends a message
It's part of the struggle
part of the fight
to speak on behalf of people
that can't speak
The Arab Spring in general
really influenced me
because it was
for the Arab world
it was something new
and it was mostly triggered
by graffiti
and street art
and social media
and all that stuff
It really made me realize
how easy it can be
to reach people
it's straightforward
you paint on the wall
that people pass by
most frequently
that's it
they see it, they have to see it
The works of Western artists worldwide
have always had a bigger impact
than the works of artists from
Algeria, Palestine, South Africa
If one thinks of 40 plus years ago,
for instance the War in Vietnam
we know more about it
from American artists
than we do from
Vietnamese artists
And that's because they are
part of an international market
I am not just talking
in economic terms
I am not just talking about
the art market per Se
I am talking about a symbolic market
which is strongly asymmetric
and where a Western voice will always
count more than a non-Western voice
Mostly, Banksy's art
it's not about influencing
the artists here
it's more about
putting this place
in the spotlight
It could make more difference
if he painted
on the other side of the wall
We know what's happening here
Paint on the Israeli side
I don't think it
makes less sense
if you want to sell something
You have a house
and you want to sell it
It's your house, you can sell it
The artist knows that when
he's done with the painting
it's not his painting anymore
They sell it for
a few hundred dollars
and that guy buys it
and sells it for
100,000 dollars, 200,000 dollars
they just make money out of it
They just take advantage
of somebody who's...
who doesn't really know
who Banksy is
who doesn't really
know the value of...
of the piece that he owns
"The Donkey with the Soldier"
Banksy made it on a private
wall in Manger Street
and that's...
that's very big
Someone I don't know
from Europe or the United States
came here
when he saw that graffiti
he said to the owner
of the building
of that wall
"I want to buy it"
and he brought
a big sawing machine
and cut it
and shipped it
I don't know where that is now
in a museum
in the United States
or in Europe, I don't know
but that's when...
it was sold
and shipped
If you were in Jerusalem,
it's not safe
for all, for all
for Arabic people,
Jewish people, for all
Many, many soldiers
Here, it changed
it's safer
here nobody's angry, nobody...
the problems are only
where the border is
Already rolling?
Peter approached me
in the Summer
about this Banksy piece
To find a street work
that was done in Palestine
it's kind of unique
An artwork
if it's by Banksy
or somebody else
has a value
and maybe the owner thinks...
the value is...
too big for them to keep
We were in a position to buy it
and we bought it
and I think in the long run,
most of the...
a lot of street pieces,
they disappear after a few years
they are no longer with us
Banksy is gone mate
He's gone, sorry boys
I got one, I got a smaller one
We are talking about art, so we can't
just focus on the ethical point of view
Some artworks will survive the streets
even though they don't get stolen
We tend to defend the artist's will,
choices, context and message
We obviously need
to respect that
however when you move
an artwork from its original context
that artwork won't stop
talking to you
In a way we underestimate
the power of art
but art is still talking to us, even
removed from its original context
It is not art becoming mute,
it is us becoming deaf
not understanding what
an artwork is telling us
once it's removed
from its context
Let's get back, guys
It's not only a
painting on a wall
it's a painting that reflects
our core cause
our core message
our core existence
And to be honest with you
when one of his pieces was cut
and brought out of Bethlehem
we considered as
a Municipal Council
they cut a very important image
that relates
to the Palestinian cause
so you are cutting the cause
That was really
unacceptable for us
Banksy came from nowhere
Is he the Robin Hood of today?
For me Banksy is...
a philosopher
that we need to infer
from his graffiti and whatever
message he is sending
to bring about a better world
Who reads the graffiti
he reads the world
Who reads the graffiti
he reads the pain
Who reads the graffiti
he reads the suffering of others
Are you documenting everything?
Are you documenting everything?
I am going to arrest him
I am Superintendent of the
Bethlehem Police Department
As for the paintings by
the artist named Banksy
There's very little
information about him
We often patrol
the province and the city
The patrol officers know
where these graffiti are
and if we notice somebody
trying to damage them
we are ready to
deal with the case
The local police knows
the value of these paintings
and what they represent
It is our duty to preserve them
and protect them
and God willing
we will be able to do so
What these paintings represent
what Banksy is trying
to tell the whole world
through his art
is that Palestinian people
deserve to live
just like any other people
in the world
My message to Banksy?
Keep on
Keep on going
Thank you for everything
You were able to express
us Palestinians
as nobody else managed to
Thank you
That's my shop...
Before... before the wall,
this was a grocery
not Banksy
but the world was very nice
before the wall
The Palestinian people
and the Israeli people
worked together
no walls, no checkpoints
everything was open
between us and them
and no problem
But when they finished the wall
many stores closed
because there was
no business any more, no work
I put a chair
in front of my shop
and I thought to myself:
"What shall I do?"
I saw many tourists looking
for Banksy's graffiti
They asked me
"Where's Banksy's graffiti?"
And the tourists
when they ask me
they like my shop
Maikel Canawati?
He's not here
he's on the main road
This way, down
Maikel Canawati?
There's a restaurant there
Just straight
Half km
That's the thing,
I saw a guy with a hat
on the wall
One reporter came to me
and he asked me about it
He asked me
"What do you think about Banksy's
work to help the Palestinian people?"
If Banksy wants to do good
let's sell this painting
and do something
good in Bethlehem
I come from a
Greek Orthodox family
I go to this church in Beit Jala
Saint Nicholas Church
we pray there...
When this thing happened
I saw the furniture was too old
it needed to be, you know...
I said to myself...
If we manage to sell this painting
I will contribute all the money
to refurbish the church completely
It's not personal...
I don't know why
he makes it personal
with me
He came to Palestine
on a mission
to help the Palestinian people
He's welcome to help them
Let him send me
a few more paintings
send me some more
paintings and...
I will sell them and we can help
the Palestinian refugee camps
the Palestinian sick people
That's my message to him
if he wants to help
But if he wants to do business
then we are ready
to cut all of his pieces
and do business as well
God's gifts are shared among all men,
each according to their potential
so there are men who resist
using weapons
others using their tongue
while others use creativity
We carry an olive branch in one hand
and a gun in the other
we hold the brush in our hands
as well as the bullet
and we don't give up
We start from the end
and we go backwards
He's a man we know as a member
of the Christian community
He's a rich man
I am in favour of shipping
around the world
these images and sculptures
on our walls
so that everybody can see that this
is the soldier and this is the donkey
and what the Palestinian
question has come to
Lately there was another piece
that I wanted to cut
but when I started
to cut this piece
the whole country wanted
to save this piece
They stopped us
from cutting that wall
They considered it as...
Palestinian art
or something like this
I don't see it
as a historical painting
or something from the culture
of the Palestinian people
So if you have buyers for me
to buy all the paintings
I will try to cut them
and I will sell them
and I will do something good
for the people here instead
It was my idea
to cut this painting
because a friend of mine said
that we would get a lot of money
But the problem is that we didn't
get any money from this painting
This wall is very bad
and even when somebody
comes, like Banksy
to paint on this wall
he cannot change anything
the wall will stay
and the painting doesn't change
anything for the wall
This is our land
this is our dream, to be free
without this fucking wall
First of all I say to Banksy
you are not very famous in Palestine
don't come and paint on this wall
and say this is good
for Palestinians
good for Americans,
good for anybody
Support the poor people,
that's enough
Fuck you Banksy
This is art done in secret
for the public
It's art where
it's not supposed to be
I can't read shit,
even with glasses
It's art
a secret and...
on serious subjects
put where anyone can see
It's art that's extremely beautiful
to show
how good things could be
Jenny Holzer
The first Keith Haring drawings
to appear on the subway
were white chalk
on black cardboard
that nobody had used before
At first I would
just take pictures
then one day,
on Broadway and Lafayette
I saw these subway workers
ripping them off the walls...
They just dumped them there,
ready for the trash
so I thought to myself:
"Taking pictures is not enough"
They looked at me
as if I were a Martian
why is he taking these pieces
of cardboard out of the trash?
I would spray them
in order to fix
the chalk in the drawing
I had this spray
bottle with water
and I would use it
on the cardboard
and left them there overnight
The morning after
I would come back
and between humidity and water
the starch give had evaporated
so I would cut off
a small triangle
and slowly peel them off
I am Philipp Teuchtler
Every time you have to be
the first to enjoy the art
This is always worthy for me
I would like to have
something later
If somebody wants
to cut out a Banksy now
or a piece by anyone, by Obey
they should have opened
their eyes before
Funny of wild,
one or both is good
Intelligent also
counts sometimes
But beautiful is, for me,
one of the most boring things
Beautiful artwork...
When I want to see something beautiful
I go to the park, see nature
You have these two different things
You have guys who go to the gallery
and buy all these things
This is the classical thing
And then you have these things
that are from the streets
and those you can't buy
so maybe you have to find
another way to get them
Also, why you steal?
Maybe it's not good to say it
in an interview, is it?
Maybe we should
cut everything out
Stealing sounds very criminal
but maybe that is
also the nice thing
that I like about street art
the criminal point of view
The people making graffiti
were mainly Hispanics
or Blacks from Harlem
coming to neighborhoods
with galleries and museums,
like Soho
They were mostly
considered outlaws
and actually quite a few were
arrested by the police
Maybe we can get a few ideas
of what the end of street art
is going to look like
But let's see here... when you...
I mean, it doesn't look bad
Classic, nice
But you have no text anymore
it's so proper
that people don't touch
I can't say nice anymore
Here it's so classic...
It's getting worse,
it's getting worse
This place used to be
quite wild, you know
you had, like,
these people tagging
busted by the police
It was a moving space
now there's
commissioned work here
Each one has their exact spot
Don't cross it, you know
You have this wall, you have
this wall, you have this wall
Then you have people, like,
some rich people
who come and invite
people to paint
you know, maybe a fake Banksy
because it's so cool and so nice
But with money
you can't buy taste
as you see on this wall
and then people come and tell me
how great street art is
and how fresh everything is
This has nothing to do
with freshness
People don't even think...
I mean
This is a work I would never
put in my toilet, you know
I mean, look how fresh
this wall looks
I mean, this is still,
you know...
You need to have
a taste for revolution
On my Facebook page
where they ask you
about your school
I wrote:
Institute of Disobedience
because you just cannot obey
if you obey you become
nothing but an artisan
What do you see in this picture?
It means we don't care
if it's flowers or stones
we're going to
fight with anything
This is what I think
He does't have stones,
he finds flowers
he throws the flowers
I think it will be gone
in two years
because of the sun, the weather
There is a carwash in this area
a dirty place as you can see
Look over there
the colour is starting
to come out
But we have it in magazines
we have pictures on the Internet
Everything is saved
You can find everything
on the Internet
There are not better
or worse ways of collecting
There are no
beautiful or ugly graffiti
It's something that started
from the very beginning
as a lifestyle for teenagers who
didn't even expect it to come to this
Today it's crazy, it's madness
We've got to respect
the will of the artist
The artist wanted
to paint on this door?
He wanted his artwork
to stay on this door
We cannot change it, we cannot
take it off without his permission
put it into a museum and show it
and say: "okay, now we've got the door"
The guy painted it on the door,
and he wanted the door to be there
If he'd wanted to paint it
on a canvas for a museum
he'd have painted it
on a canvas for a museum
Personally, if I was painting on this
door, and you came and told me
Hey, we really like this door
and it's really important for
our culture, for our history
for the preservation of graffiti
We want to keep it in a museum
In that case I would say:
"With pleasure, take my door"
I would be pleased that
you respect my artwork
that you want my artwork
to be in a museum
For me it would be a pleasure
But if you didn't ask me, surely,
as a rather aggressive person
I would take action
Somebody in Bologna,
for example, took action
There was action and a reaction
And in this kind of situation,
especially in a public situation
people do take advantage
they use politics, they involve
political organizations
they put out statements,
and it's a clash of titans
it's never ending
It's as you like, you're free
to collect us as you like
and if you don't like graffiti
and street art, don't collect at all
I had already peeled off
pieces from the street
wall pieces of no real value
I even took some in Iran,
in abandoned houses
and I still have
some of those with me
I am talking about the 70s here
so imagine how long we've been
thinking about saving drawings
that are disappearing
The first we saved was this
young dude playing football
We took its surface and a minuscule
brick layer that came with it
The owner of the wall didn't want this
drawing, maybe he even complained
because this vandal
ruined it with his painting
Except for us this so called vandal
has remarkable pictorial qualities
Generally people demonize street art
as they do all the tags in Bologna
mixing up these drawings
with the tags around the city
which have nothing to do with it
They were both made with
a marker, but that's about it
The marker is not the artist
the matter is not the artist
it is the matter of art that's artistic
So we started to figure out
ways to save this stuff
Borondo, yes
This one?
Well, this is
just an attribution
There is no official document
stating this is a Borondo
It's not like, you know, Giotto
In traditional art you have
provenance, here you have style
which you can't miss anyway
See these crosses...
look at this cross here
That one, that one,
this one, these signs
are exactly the same
you find over there
just the same over there
See those crosses there?
See those signs?
They are identical
It's like when you're doodling
while you're on the phone
These signs are your signs
I cannot imitate your doodles,
and neither can Marco
Nobody can because when
you're doodling you're not thinking
that's your style
That cross, those dots
sure, anybody can do the same
but not in such a systematic,
tidy and continuous way
So that's a sign, a style
a style we consider pictorial
It is the style of an artist, as if
they went to school to learn it
as if they had
an academic background
The controversy behind the Banksy
pieces taken off walls worldwide
is just the same
as 200/250 years ago
Even in the 19th century
some intellectuals spoke out
against this commercially
driven approach
But if it weren't for people
collecting these drawings
we would have probably
lost them forever
I have only recently realised
we are talking about
a real art form here
often really high art
and anyway something we
can't do without for the future
It is all very simple
these walls belonged
to private citizens
so if someone goes and paints
on someone else's wall
they don't automatically give away
the paternity of the art work
but they give away the possession
and the material property of the piece
Blu doesn't want his art to be mixed
with what he probably considers shit
but he doesn't understand
we are not exploiting his art
His drawings are not for sale
I could post this
amazing Blu on eBay
and I would find a buyer
in no time, trust me
90% of the people doing this kind
of thing are only in it for the money
gallerists doubling
the original price of a piece
that's the way of the world
Our goal instead is to recognize
the real value of this kind of art
so that it can be preserved
in its original location
where it was meant to be
Nobody can do what they want
and decide to play
by their own rules
Let's make sure everything
is back the way it was
Let's clean everything up
Everything the way it was
What most people didn't get
in the Bologna exhibition
is that we only focused
on a particular story
while actually it's a wider issue
and it has to do with our memory
Isaac Asimov described a world
where people stop remembering
because all their memories
are stored in machines
Today we believe,
almost ideologically
that we can content
ourselves with the present
while forgetting about the past
because we have computers
But if you know the history
of the Internet and street art
you also know that what
happened in the early 2000s
has already disappeared
A Facebook post stating that
street art is ephemeral
and it's useless to preserve stuff,
that's very easy to do
but I won't take the responsibility
of saying that objects are useless
all you need is the Internet
and a digital camera
The way I see it,
at this point
a colonial logic is somehow inevitable
in the Western world
but except for Israel,
conquering and colonizing a land
in this day and age is
a completely different matter
So new forms of colonization
are deployed all over the world
finally showing that capitalism
can't do without colonization
so this colonization
can be intangible
but it can also be tangible
as if we kept conquering
new territories
which will produce
new images, new objects
so that we can extend our field
because we cannot keep
selling the same merchandise
otherwise we might lose customers,
if we don't differentiate our offer
and this offer can also include
Palestinian political art, why not?
When they opened that hotel
he invited all the press
from all over the world
and they came
TV channels from
all over the world
from Japan, from all of Europe
from the United States, Canada
and I saw that with my eyes
You came before and
you know about my shop
it is small and sells
little pictures and T-shirts
But, because he's my friend
he told me: "Change
your shop for the better"
"with many new
and expensive things"
"because many tourists,
many VIPs"
"will come here and
will want to buy gifts"
And I changed my shop
and you see it's
better than before
They come here
to see his graffiti
from all the countries
that's amazing
So Banksy, how is it going?
We are saying hello
at least answer
You entered against the traffic
please let the cars get inside
okay, let him go back a bit
I think this is a stupid work
because this wall
is not a good place
it's not good
for visitors to come
it's a shameful place, my friend
And he can't change anything
This is our flag, you see?
Our flag is in the
United Nations now
My father, my family, my parents
all of them are Palestinian
We are originally Palestinian
I was born in Bethlehem
I started to drive a taxi in 1998
And who broke our business
and our hope?
The wall
It was built in 2000
When they started
building the wall
they closed off the area
You see the wall and you go back
You stop, because
the wall stops you
not the soldiers, the wall
Closed, finished
When they started
to bring the bulldozers
and trucks and machines
to cut the olive trees
and clear the area
nobody knew what would happen
and we asked some policemen
and some security
"What's going on?"
And they said, I remember,
I will never forget this
They said
"Someday you will hope
to see the air on this side"
In one year,
everything was finished
I was with my friends,
we are all taxi drivers
I told them: "Do you remember
when the security told us"
"Someday you will not see
the air over there"?
This is the day
and it was true
They built the wall
they changed all the area
No Jerusalem
You don't even see
what's behind the wall
Only one gate
for thousands of people
It's a big change
It's very sad
I believe in freedom
this wall will come down,
like Berlin
The same
History will repeat itself