City Space Craig Noble

It's difficult not to compare a documentary on public graffiti to the 1983 masterpiece Style Wars, but over 20 years later the argument of whether the art of getting up is criminal or not is still relevant. City Space focuses on the never-ending war between urban artists and the city — in this case Vancouver. There's little more to the low-budget film than a series of talking heads, ranging from disguised writers to the police force to organisations constructed to remove what some find offensive. The film goes back and forth between those who find graffiti to be art — a necessary form that helps bring dimension to the otherwise flat walls of the city — and those who perceive it to be criminal and gang-related. Yes, technically defacing public property is against the law and that will never change, but City Space offers some interesting evidence as to how the city is planning to deal with the situation. One business owner describes a bullying tactic by the city where he was forced to have graf from the side of his building removed whether he disliked the vandalism or not, as well there's a company called Goodbye Graffiti, which, at three dollars a pop, will eliminate any sign of spray paint at a ridiculously low price. There's some interesting arguments brought to the table with City Space and you may be left undecided as to who is in the right and who is in the wrong with this never-ending struggle, but the finished product comes off a little dry. It would have been nice to have followed some of the artists around to see exactly what they get up to at night, though it's hard to warm up to the writers of Vancouver when they won't even expose their faces. (Pixel One, www.cityspacemovie.com)