JR, the photographer and street artist known as the “French Banksy,” and Robert De Niro are collaborating on a documentary titled “The Past Goes Fast,” exploring the life and art of De Niro’s father, a talented but unknown artist who struggled with his identity.
Initiated two years ago and set to evolve over an extended period, the documentary unfolds as a journey of self-discovery and emotional connection, capturing the actor’s reflections on his late father, De Niro Sr. It delves into his life through his art, photographs, and journals.
The journals depict the elder De Niro’s struggles with self-esteem, recognition, and his hidden homosexuality, unknown to his son during childhood. The actor revealed that he had not read the journals but encouraged JR to explore and read them aloud.
To break down emotional barriers for De Niro and allow him to connect with his family history, JR involved him in emotional exercises, such as carrying a blown-up print of his father’s portrait and lying on it in a field, creating a moving experience. De Niro’s close friends, including Martin Scorsese, were present during these sequences.
De Niro has been friends with JR for over a decade, previously collaborating on the short film “Ellis” in 2015. The collaboration between them goes beyond typical artistic projects, delving into personal and familial aspects, making it a profound exploration.
During a discussion at Art Basel Miami Beach, De Niro emphasized preserving his father’s studio unchanged to share the artist’s legacy with future generations, highlighting the importance of artifacts and photographs in reconnecting with memories.