Megunica is a feature documentary that follows famous street artist Blu as he paints murals in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Argentina. The director, Lorenzo Fonda, and Blu became friends in Italy before teaming up to create the film, and in the process they developed the stop-motion style that animates Blu's murals. Blu's most famous film, Muto, has ove nine million views on YouTube.
In this excerpt from the film, Blu is caught painting a wall on private property. Eventually forced to turn off the camera while Blu is negotiating with the locals, Fonda recreates the drama with little figures sculpted to look like the characters, hoodies and all. Below, Fonda talks about the making of the movie and working with the artist.
The Atlantic: What does “Megunica” mean?
Lorenzo Fonda: “Megunica” is the acronym for MExico, GUatemala, NIcaragua, Costarica and Argentina. Those are the countries we visited while on our journey.
How did you come to collaborate with Blu on this feature documentary, and what was that creative partnership like? Had you collaborated on any projects before that?
We used to live very close to each other back in Italy, and we liked each other's work and had been trying to collaborate on something for a while, but they were all small projects. When the occasion came for me to find some money to make a bigger film, I proposed the idea of going somewhere to make art and document the whole thing. The idea was to basically improvise a trip that would facilitate his creative approach, which is very loose and based on the surroundings of where he paints, and through that I would hopefully show a little of his creative process as well. Also, we did quite a few experiments with stop motion, which culminated into the wall painting animation that you see at the end of the film.
Clearly, as we see in this excerpt, there are challenges to documenting an artist who is anonymous and often paints illegally on private property. What were some strategies you used to overcome these challenges?
There were no strategies! And to be honest, we tried to stay away from illegal walls. Most of the walls he painted we had permission from the owner or they were deemed safe by the local artists we would paint with. The only very illegal piece we did, where we were feeling real danger, is the one in the middle of Guatemala City in the middle of the day with the yellow character lying down. You just shouldn't be painting like that in one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
Where can one watch Megunica in full?
Unfortunately, the only way right now is catching it at a festival somewhere around the world. But if there's any TV or distributor reading this that is interested in acquiring the film, please step forward, we'd love to hear from you.
What are you working on now?
I am gearing up to go shoot the first batch of my new documentary, which connects skateboarding, a devastating earthquake in Sicily in '68, and Death Valley. I am not sure I'm ready to share much more than that right now, the only thing I know is that I'm in love with the story and that it will definitely be a very interesting subject to explore.