Paintcans & Politics

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Paintcans & Politics

Who was TRDL? All of Detroit and southeast Michigan wanted to know, as the brash, eponymous tagger’s trademark spray-painted turtles started popping up everywhere from freeway overpasses to abandoned buildings to public sculptures. As the city around him slipped further into decay, TRDL was making his mark on the urban landscape as the city’s most ubiquitous graffiti artist or vandal, depending upon your perspective. Director Tony Smith took on the challenge of tracking down the TRDL in a fast-paced, engrossing feature film that takes viewers behind the city’s battered surface into a thriving subculture of the talented, the desperate, the creative and the crazed – the driven young artists who felt compelled to make their mark on a city that had ignored them. Simultaneously, Smith follows the path of an ambitious and angry prosecutor, overworked law enforcement personnel and local businesspeople impacted by the taggers and the controversy they generated; the result is the mesmerizing chronicle of a city locked in the uncomfortable throes of social struggle.