REVIEW: There Are No Fakes
dir. Jamie Kastner
2018| Canada | 114 mins | PG
*Director & Producer in attendance at GFF 2019!
There Are No Fakes leaves no stone unturned as director/writer Jamie Kastner creeps closer to the truth of whether iconic Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau’s paintings have been forged and, if so, who is to blame.
Morrisseau (1931–2007), dubbed the “Picasso of the North”, was a self-taught Anishinaabe Canadian artist, creator of The Woodland School of Art, and a prominent member of the Indian Group of Seven. His work mainly featured ancient legends and was characterized by electrifying colours with thick, black lines which, unfortunately, was easy to dupe to a certain pair (or pairs?!) of eyes.
There Are No Fakes is a real “who’s who” of an art exposé and by the time you’re settled into the documentary, you’ve forgotten that The Barenaked Ladies’ Kevin Hearn who “just wanted to buy a painting- really”, sparked this whole claim upon discovering he may have paid $20,000 for an imitation Morrisseau.
Kastner connects the dots through a wide variety of interviews, winds you through quiet, northern Canadian scenes, and puts you into the very auction house that is under scrutiny of selling nearly 2,000 fake Morrisseau pieces. While creating a documentary on the greatest art scam of Canadian history is no small feat, the nearly two-hour documentary could use some further editing.
Watching There Are No Fakes was like peeling an onion that’s been left in the fridge for too long- each exposed layer proves to be more rotten than the next until you’re left teary-eyed at the core. And, at the core of this documentary, is something much more sinister than art forgery. There Are No Fakes is rife with corrupt white men (spoiler: they own art galleries!), non-gallery-owning white men, and child sexual abuse.
Come for the suspense, stay for the important motifs of race, colonialism, and sexuality.
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