Franco the Great created the vibrant murals that helped revitalize Harlem. But today, as the gentrifiers tear down his art, it’s a race against time to save his legacy as his contributions could be forgotten forever.

The documentary film takes us into the world of a man known as the Picasso of Harlem. Franco has lived in this neighborhood for over five decades, where he is widely known for the murals he creates that decorate the storefront gates on the thoroughfare of 125th Street. But as Harlem changes – new residents moving in, new stores popping up – the gates are coming down, and their preservation is not guaranteed. The art that was once a fixture of this historic neighborhood risks destruction, and the legacy of the man who helped build the artistic culture here may be forgotten. Picasso of Harlem explores the fight to remember this crucial artistic and cultural heritage before the murals disappear.


The Team


Ron Haviv, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and award-winning photojournalist, is a co-founder of the photo agency VII, dedicated to documenting human rights issues. His work has appeared nationally and internationally, and he is the author of four critically acclaimed books: Blood and Honey: A Balkan War Journal; Afghanistan: The Road to Kabul; Haiti: 12 January 2010; and The Lost Rolls. His work has been featured in numerous museums and galleries, including the Louvre, the United Nations, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mark Peterson is a photographer based in New York City. His work has been published in national and international publications, and he has received several awards, including the Eugene Smith grant. His work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and museum shows, including at the Louvre in France. He is the author of the books Acts Of Charity and Political Theatre, which was honored by Pictures of the Year International (POYi). Time magazine named Political Theatre one of the best photography books of the year (2017).

Director of Photography

Gerard Byrne is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and cinematographer. His work has been shown on PBS, NBC, CBS, A&E’s Biography series and countless other programming venues. His work has taken him all over the globe from Hanoi, Vietnam to the oyster farms of New Orleans.   


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Picasso of Harlem


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