Jean-Michel Basquiat had made his first impressions on the New York underground art scene by the time he was 18. By the time he was 22, he was a star; at age 24, he made the cover of The New York Times Magazine and was collaborating with Andy Warhol. He was dead of a heroin overdose at 27. Friend and filmmaker Tamra Davis shot footage of the artist at work, as well as an extended interview two years before his death. After he died, she took all her footage and put in a drawer, where it was unseen for over 20 years. Now, thankfully, she has assembled that footage, and more, into the intimate and powerful documentary Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child. The film opens with a pulsing, fast-paced portrait of the NYC downtown art scene, circa the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was into this world that Basquiat moved from Brooklyn in 1978, and created ingenious (and literate) graffiti messages that he and friend Al Diaz created and tagged as SAMO. He also started a band called Gray with other artists, appeared on the seminal downtown public-access show TV Party, and starred (basically playing himself) in the low-budget film Downtown 81. He was homeless and broke through most of this period; he remembers his hustler living, surfing from couch to couch, sneaking on trains, living as a literal starving artist. The film's tremendous energy doesn't falter during its chronicling of his fast rise in the art scene, as he goes from selling handmade $10 postcards to watching every piece sell in one night (for a total of $200,000) at his first solo show. He gets richer, he becomes a star, he befriends Warhol, he goes to L.A., he becomes (in the words of cultural historian Nelson George) the centre of a cult. But he remains an outsider in the snooty New York art scene, fighting the dull minimalism of the 1970s with his intricate, frequently complex pieces. Davis brings off an extensive and engaging discussion of his influences (painters, yes, but also writers like William S. Burroughs and musicians like Charlie Parker); she manages to discuss the art, his style, his talent, and his technique without allowing the film to become a dry, academic art doc. The picture has a tremendous energy to it, and it feeds off the passion of not only its subject, but of those who loved him and recall him fondly.