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An Interview with “The Universe of Keith Haring” Filmmaker Christina Clausen

By Maria Esteves - May 18, 2008

The Seventh Annual 2008 Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) New York Premiere documentary film THE UNIVERSE OF KEITH HARING, directed by Christina Clausen final screening was held at AMC Village VII, Sunday, May 4, 11:30 am. A special Q&A immediately followed. The PARTY OF LIFE benefit in celebration of Keith Haring's 50th Birthday featuring Junior Vasquez and Louie Vega was held at PACHA venue, 9:00 pm - 4:00 am. Aviva Press interviewed director Christina Clausen at the AMC Village VII on Sunday, May 4, 2008.


Q: What inspired the making of the documentary film "THE UNIVERSE OF KEITH HARING?"

CC: The idea originally came to me ten years ago during my first visit to The Keith Haring Foundation in New York. I was doing a video segment for a show about Keith Haring to be held in Rome. At the foundation, as I opened the closets I was incredibly amazed at the amount of art materials and footages available about Keith and the downtown scene in NY during the 1980's, and his activity as a student at the School of Visual Arts. He had lots of books and catalogs. He did shows around the world, as well as his autobiography by John Gruen. The tape sessions John did of Keith when he was stricken with HIV were available to use for film. I had the ability to have the artist himself speak openly about his life.


Q: What does it mean to you to have the documentary screen at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, AMC East Village theater, May 4th, which would have been the artist Haring's 50th Birthday?

CC: It's impossible for me to describe the feelings I have inside this very moment. It could have not been a better coincidence to bring Keith alive down here. I have the entire Haring Family in the screening room and together, we plan to celebrate Keith all day. It's really strange, exactly a year ago by coincidence, I planned my first trip to Kutztown, PA, to meet Keith's parent. They opened their home to me, showed me their family albums, and had dinner together with Kermit Oswald, president of The Keith Haring Foundation. We toasted to Keith's 49th birthday without having any idea a year later, we would all be in New York City celebrating together.


TFF08 New York Premiere documentary film THE UNIVERSE OF KEITH
HARING at AMC Village VII, Sunday, May 4, 2008, (from left-to-right),
director Christina Clausen, with Joan Haring (Keith's mother), and
president Kermit Oswald, The Keith Haring Foundation.


Q: What has been the audience reaction?

CC: The audience reaction has been extremely positive. The reaction from New Yorkers at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival made me shiver. Keith had the amazing capacity of making people feel important.


Q: Where will THE UNIVERSE OF KEITH HARING screen next?

CC: In March, the film premiered at the 26th International Festival of Films on Art, in Canada. The theatrical release in New York, Seattle, WA, and Los Angeles is scheduled for mid-September. It will be available on DVD and on iApple by Christmas. The film airs on MTV, VH1, LOGO, and CMT in January 2009.


Q: Were you a fan of Keith Haring contemporary artwork?

CC: Yes, Keith's work is like a primitive line that has been updated by him in the 1980's. His work is extremely fresh and universal, a language that everyone is able to relate.


Q: Is Keith Haring artwork available for purchase? If so, where?

CC: Keith's art is represented by Jeffrey Deitch Gallery. His work is available by lots of different collectors.

Q: Any interest from film distributors?

CC: Yes, they are taking care of the theatrical release and the first TV window.


Q: Any new projects in the works?

CC: Yes, my next project is about one of Keith's friend actually, it will be a never ever scene, Andy Warhol.

Thank you, Christina.

For more information, contact:


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