A band of graffiti taggers scales the skyscrapers of São Paulo by night, routinely facing death to produce a unique kind of street art called pixação. The city offers plenty of walls for their canvases. These pixadors started tagging as kids, just playing around. Now they protest against the system and repression. This is the story of Djan, Ricardo, William and Biscoito, who live in the same favela. They paint to be hated instead of just ignored. They paint so their lives don’t go unnoticed. They surf on fast trains for kicks, their favorite drug adrenaline. Now the unbelievable happens, and the pixadors are invited to Berlin, to participate in the Biennale exhibition of contemporary art. They’re chosen as representative victims of social inequality who use art as political expression. But when told to restrict their painting to pre-selected walls, the pixadors naturally revolt, causing a scandal among well-meaning benefactors. This edgy documentary gets into the hearts and minds of dedicated rebels whose chosen weapon is paint.

Director Amir Arsames Escandari was born in Iran in 1979. His family was forced to leave the country when he was 7 and landed in a refugee camp in Yugoslavia. When the civil war broke out there, they moved to Finland, where they were granted asylum. Amir’s father bought him a Hi8 camera to keep him out of trouble; he learned to use it, studied film directing at the University of Wales, and worked at the huge Sköldvik oil refinery outside Helsinki. Pixadores, his feature film debut, was financed largely by Helsinki-filmi, with four Nordic Film Institutes as backers. Shot largely in gritty black and white on wobbly scaffolding and fast-moving trains by ace Finnish DoP Peter Flinckenberg, it’s sure to launch Amir’s career internationally.