The double lives of female graffiti artists from across the globe pack an adrenaline-fueled punch in indie documentary Girl Power. The film follows Prague-based artist Sany through six continents and into the lives of more than 25 graffiti writers. Sany mixes business with pleasure, sticking to formal interviews with such legends as Lady Pink and Martha Cooper, but taking to the streets to tag trains and concrete alongside her contemporaries like the Puff Girls in Western Germany, Okada in Moscow, and Motel 7 in Cape Town.
Girl Power, co-produced with with Jan Zajíček, adds new breadth to an exciting, emergent graffiti narrative: female writers calling B.S. that theirs is a male-dominated art. The film shows that this sentiment has no borders, and that women in graffiti are eager to make their voices heard and their work seen. “At the start, we wanted to film in just a few cities, but more and more girls wanted to participate,” Sany explains to The Creators Project. “If a female writer you’ve looked up to for a long time from Australia writes you an email saying, ‘Hey, I want to be in your film!’ What can you do? You have to go!”
While the spectrum of talent profiled in the film captures the enthusiasm of the global community of female writers, Sany noticed that nearly all her interviewees were hesitant on one count—opening up about anything but their art. “Often the girls did not want to talk about personal things on camera or how graffiti affects their lives,” she explains, “but as that is a very important part of it, we decided to tell it for them.”
The film is as much about the subjects of the film as it as about the making of the film itself. The action is split. Half the time, the viewer is listening to interviews with the film’s many artists or crouching alongside Sany in the steady hands of cinematographer Ondřej Rybár as the writers rush to make their mark before the next train or before the next shift of security officials comes on duty. During the rest, the viewer watches as Sany herself struggles to balance her love of graffiti with her normal life and cringes as the close knit film crew faces problem after problem with production.
Girl Power took more than eight years to make. “It was a long time,” Sany says, “during which I did not care about myself or my future much. There was no free time.” Due to her dedication, and about halfway through the film, Sany loses her job—quite the conundrum given that she and her crew are working on the film pro bono. Then: internal strife in the team and a betrayal. And of course, the ever-present worry of funding.
But if you ask Sany now if these sacrifices and costs were worth it, she will respond confidently in the affirmative. “I am pretty sure that in 30 years, the graffiti world will be very different. There might even be as many women as there are men,” she says. “So for me, it was important to capture this exciting moment of emancipation in the art.”
Read more about the film on Girl Power’s official website, where you can also find the full list of future screenings.