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BFI Southbank previews "Paper & Glue" by JR: A Documentary the world needed

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

One of the events we couldn't miss in London this week at BFI Southbank was the London preview of JR's Paper & Glue documentary followed by a pre-recorded Q&A with the artist.

Operate by the British Film Institute, BFI Southbank is the leading repertory cinema in the UK, specialising in seasons of classic, independent and non-English language films - the perfect location to premiere such a masterpiece.

Paper & Glue is a film that challenges viewers' perceptions by lifting the voices of people and places that are often overlooked. A look at communities and societies sometimes forgotten, an unspoken political eye on what is happening in the world. The film is a collection of years of JR's work and includes an archive of photography and videos that span back to JR's adolescence, his desire to express his feelings, his views on what is happening around him, the urge of telling the world that art can heal and can give a voice to the ones without a voice. When JR started capturing moments around the streets of Paris, sometimes alone, sometimes with his friends, he didn't know he would get a worldwide recognition years later.

The film is heartfelt discussion between us and the world. How can we help each other? The answer is in Paper & Glue. It's easy to feel emotional whilst watching the documentary.

The spirit of Agnès Varda is felt throughout JR’s documentary Paper & Glue. A quote from her opens and closes the film, and there’s an occasional shot of the poster for Faces Places, her wonderful 2017 collaboration with JR.

In the 95 minute long documentary, the French artist turns the camera on his won work as he builds some of his monumental projects.

As mentioned before, from his early graffiti videos captured on Paris rooftops at night, to the US-Mexico border, to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, to a current collaboration at a California supermax prison, the film follows JR as he turns these communities inside out, you can also have a sneak peek at his Louvre installation of 2016 and the foundation of his school in Moro de Providencia.

Paper & Glue is the best example of how kindness and humanity can destroy walls, political conflicts and prejudice amongst different societies, and the fact that JR is the author of this extraordinary sense of unity gives an uplifting sense to the documentary. The artist is committed to creating a better world through art and there is a wide evidence that he is causing that to happen. He continues his involvement with the communities with whom he has worked, by starting and supporting schools and other forms of involvement. He is possessed with such a contagious sense of optimism and fun, and such an enlightened point of view which is utterly uplifting, watching him create masterpiece after masterpiece without being funded by big organisations makes you reflect that there is still kindness in the world and we can all get invovled.

I could not recommend this more. It should be required viewing.

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