CULTURE & ARTS

Why The Banksy Documentary Isn't Really About Banksy

If you live in New York, you've probably heard of Banksy, the elusive and anonymous English street artist whose works have become mythical for their stealth as much as their social impact. For those unaware of him, good news: a documentary on the Banksy phenomenon comes out soon.

The film's director, Chris Moukarbel, stopped by HuffPost Live to chat about the upcoming HBO special, "Banksy Does New York," which chronicles the artist's month-long art spree in the city.

Moukarbel and company, however, chose to go a different route in making the film rather than just contemplating the question of who Banksy is.

"For us, from the beginning, it was really a portrait of New York City and its response to Banksy. The way that his residency sort of put a frame around the city and New Yorkers that were tracking him every day," he told host Ricky Camilleri. "Also, I don't know if it's possible to hunt Banksy. That seemed like a hopeless endeavor."

In that month, October 2013, Banksy would make a piece daily, post a clue about the piece's location online and let fans figure out where it lived. It became more than just street art, Moukarbel said.

"It was this idea to use the street — he's a street artist — but also imagining the internet as a new street because it is another public space," he said. "So as a street artist, what does it mean to engage that other type of public space? So much of the work was playing out online simultaneously."

"Banksy Does New York" comes out Nov. 17 on HBO.

Watch the rest of the clip above, and catch the full HuffPost Live conversation here. Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live's new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

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BEFORE YOU GO

  • A graffiti attributed to secretive British artist Banksy depicting a child wielding a machine gun, in black and white surroun
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    A graffiti attributed to secretive British artist Banksy depicting a child wielding a machine gun, in black and white surrounded by colored flowers, is spotted in Westwood, California on February 17, 2011.
  • LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24:  Passers by have a look at the new Banksy graffitti artwork in Camden Town on June 24, 2011 in Lon
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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Passers by have a look at the new Banksy graffitti artwork in Camden Town on June 24, 2011 in London, England. The piece references the notorious London graffiti artist and tagger Tox who was recently found guilty of criminal damage and convicted. (Photo by Stewart Stanley/Getty Images)
  • A graffiti attributed to secretive British artist Banksy shows a dog urinating on a wall in Beverly Hills, California on Febr
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    A graffiti attributed to secretive British artist Banksy shows a dog urinating on a wall in Beverly Hills, California on February 17, 2011. Another graffiti was ripped down Wednesday, February 16th in Hollywood, amid sightings of other pieces in a reported pre-Oscars publicity stunt. Banksy is nominated for best documentary for 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' at the Oscars, due to be announced on February 27th at the climax of Tinseltown's annual awards season. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
  • A graffiti attributed to secretive British artist Banksy depicting Charlie Brown figure starting a fire on the side of a burn
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    A graffiti attributed to secretive British artist Banksy depicting Charlie Brown figure starting a fire on the side of a burned-out building on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California on February 17, 2011. An other graffiti was ripped down in Hollywood, amid sightings of other pieces in a reported pre-Oscars publicity stunt in LA. Banksy is nominated for best documentary for 'Exit Through the Gift Shop' at the Oscars, due to be announced on February 27 at the climax of Tinseltown's annual awards season. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
  • GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 24:  Art work said to be by underground artist Banksy is seen on the fence at the Glastonbury Fes
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    GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Art work said to be by underground artist Banksy is seen on the fence at the Glastonbury Festival site at Worthy Farm, Pilton on June 24, 2010 in Glastonbury, England. The gates opened yesterday to what has become Europe's largest music festival and is celebrating its 40th anniversary. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
  • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 14: New Banksy Mural at The Princess of Wales Pub in Primrose Hill on June 14, 2010 in London,
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    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 14: New Banksy Mural at The Princess of Wales Pub in Primrose Hill on June 14, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/Getty Images)
  • NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 29:  Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a building August 29, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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    NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 29: Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a building August 29, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. New works by the artist, whose paintings are also sold in galleries, have been popping up throughout New Orleans coinciding with the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
  • NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 1: Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a building in the upper ninth ward September 1, 2008
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    NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 1: Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a building in the upper ninth ward September 1, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. New works by the artist, whose paintings are also sold in galleries, have been popping up throughout New Orleans coinciding with the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images)
  • NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 28:  Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a closed shop August 28, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisia
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    NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 28: Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a closed shop August 28, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. New works by the artist, whose paintings are also sold in galleries, have been popping up throughout New Orleans coinciding with the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
  • NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 28:  Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a building August 28, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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    NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 28: Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a building August 28, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. New works by the artist, whose paintings are also sold in galleries, have been popping up throughout New Orleans coinciding with the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
  • NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 29:  Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a building August 29, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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    NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 29: Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a building August 29, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. New works by the artist, whose paintings are also sold in galleries, have been popping up throughout New Orleans coinciding with the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
  • NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 29:  Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a building August 29, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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    NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 29: Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a building August 29, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. New works by the artist, whose paintings are also sold in galleries, have been popping up throughout New Orleans coinciding with the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
  • NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 29:  Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns the levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward on August 29,
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    NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 29: Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns the levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward on August 29, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. New works by the artist, whose paintings are also sold in galleries, have been popping up throughout New Orleans coinciding with the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
  • A man walks past a Banksy graffiti artwork during 'Cans' graffiti exhibition in London, on May 3, 2008. British artist Banksy
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    A man walks past a Banksy graffiti artwork during 'Cans' graffiti exhibition in London, on May 3, 2008. British artist Banksy and other graffiti artists have contributed to the free exhibition which has been painted onto the walls of a public London street. AFP PHOTO/CARL DE SOUZA (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • LONDON - MAY 7:  A stencil art piece depicting new London Mayor Boris Johnson is pictured at a giant new exhibition space cre
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    LONDON - MAY 7: A stencil art piece depicting new London Mayor Boris Johnson is pictured at a giant new exhibition space created by famed graffiti artist Banksy, on May 7, 2008 in London, England. The disused tunnel beneath Waterloo station has been transformed by 30 artists from around the world. The three day event, tagged as the 'Cans festival', also invites the public to add their own stencil art. (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)
  • BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - JUNE 24:  A Palestinian police officer stands guard in front of a mural by the British grafitti artist
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    BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - JUNE 24: A Palestinian police officer stands guard in front of a mural by the British grafitti artist Banksy as he secures the arrival of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on June 24, 2008 in Bethlehem, West Bank. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
  • NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 28:  Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a buildingAugust 28, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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    NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 28: Grafitti by the illusive artist Banksy adorns a buildingAugust 28, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. New works by the artist, whose paintings are also sold in galleries, have been popping up throughout New Orleans coinciding with the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
  • A work of art believed to be by British artist Banksy is pictured in Central London, on April 14, 2008. AFP PHOTO/Shaun Curry
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    A work of art believed to be by British artist Banksy is pictured in Central London, on April 14, 2008. AFP PHOTO/Shaun Curry (Photo credit should read SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images)
  • LONDON - MARCH 04:  A lady with a shopping bag passes a recent Banksy work on a wall on March 5, 2008 in London, England. The
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    LONDON - MARCH 04: A lady with a shopping bag passes a recent Banksy work on a wall on March 5, 2008 in London, England. The grafitti shows a child raising a Tesco's plastic bag as a flag. Gordon Brown has said he will force retailers to help reduce the use of plastic bags if they do not take action voluntarily. (Photo by Cate Gillon/Getty Images)
  • BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 05:  A Palestinian labourer works under a large wall painting by elusive British graffiti art
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    BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK - DECEMBER 05: A Palestinian labourer works under a large wall painting by elusive British graffiti artist Banksy December 5, 2007 on a building wall in the biblical city of Bethlehem in the West Bank. The Bristol-born artist has adorned Israel's West Bank separation barrier and Bethlehem walls with new images, including one of a dove wearing a flak jacket and a soldier being frisked by a young girl. His works, along with those of other international artists, are part of an exhibition called Santa's Ghetto. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
  • LONDON - NOVEMBER 01:  Builders walk past a new example of 'art' by self styled guerilla artist Banksy on Pollard Street on N
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    LONDON - NOVEMBER 01: Builders walk past a new example of 'art' by self styled guerilla artist Banksy on Pollard Street on November 1, 2007 in London, England. Recent works of art by Banksy have been bought for hundreds of thousands of pounds by celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, however Tower Hamlets Council recently said that they had a duty to remove all graffiti in the area including anything done by Banksy. The public in Bristol recently voted over 90 percent in favour of keeping a piece of graffiti art by Banksy as it was deemed so popular. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
  • LONDON - MAY 18:  A spray painted depiction of a cash machine grabbing a child adorns a wall in Exmouth Market on May 18, 200
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    LONDON - MAY 18: A spray painted depiction of a cash machine grabbing a child adorns a wall in Exmouth Market on May 18, 2007 in London. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)