There’s a few hobbies in this world that just aren’t for the faint-hearted.
Spraying graffiti onto trains in foreign countries firmly falls into this category. In short film LITTLE RATS, directors Jesse Heath and Theodor Guelat went along for the ride as ‘XXXX’, a 21-year-old South American graffiti writer, travels and escapes the grips of authority (until eventually being arrested and deported to his home country) across Europe.
Throughout the film, XXXX muses on what draws him to his unconventional canvas—the risk, the adrenalin, and the individuality: “If it was allowed, every-fucking-body would be painting and it wouldn’t be the same.” Filmed in Berlin and Milan with additional footage from Argentina, Germany and Copenhagen, the polished camerawork is abruptly transformed halfway through, upping the tempo (and heartbeat) with raw footage revealing just how dangerous these operations can be—getting hit by trains an obvious occupational hazard.
Director Jesse Heath, whose back-catalogue also includes cinematic shorts such as Sola and Everyday I Walk The Same Way Home, says that he risked a lot to undergo such a tense project, but it was a story he felt compelled to tell. “For our protagonist, painting trains has nothing to do with crime—it’s an expression of freedom and I think that’s something that is forever relevant.”