HOT DOCS FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTS-“There Are No Fakes”@TIFF LIGHTBOX AND AFTERPARTY@THE LODGE-Mon.,April 29th,2019
I had the opportunity to watch “There Are No Fakes” during Hot Docs film festival and I don’t think I’ve stopped telling people about it since. The documentary is unlike any I’ve seen before and shares a very riveting and important story. The exposé is based around the work of Norval Morrisseau, arguably Canada’s most influential indigenous artist, and in particular a piece of his work that was purchased by The Barenaked Ladies’ Kevin Hearn which led the discovery of what may be Canada’s largest art fraud rings. As a forewarning, this film does contain sexual violence trigger material and is far from a happy Disney ending.
This story begins with a $20,000 Morrisseau painting that Kevin purchased from Toronto’s own Maslak McLeod Gallery. In his own words “I bought my painting, little did I know – the spider web was around me”. Morriseau is known as “The Picasso of The North”, the founder of Woodlands style and Canada’s first contemporary Indigenous art star. Hearn was (and still is) a member of The Barenaked Ladies, who at the time he said had sold about fifteen million records and had written the Big Bang theme song, so at the time $20,000 wasn’t unreasonable for such an astounding piece of art from the artist, this one titled “Spirit Energy of Mother Earth”. Later Kevin began to question the authenticity of the art piece, little did he know that his was one of many and was led down a legal rabbit hole after it was brought up.
His journey to find answers about his painting is what started the film and it first it doesn’t seem like that would be that crazy of a story. But trust me, this is one of the most meaningful and bizarre real life stories I’ve heard in a very long time. The documentary finds Hearn “in the middle of two darkly comical feuding factions: all white people, each claiming to be the true defenders of this Native artist’s legacy”. Many of the characters in this film, although none of it fiction, almost seem to be characters. The lawyers, art gallery owners, auctioneers, members of Morrisseau’s own family and other characters seem to be true live villains, fighting against not only Hearn but Morriseau’s prodigy, close friends, experts and whole panel of scholars dedicated to protecting Morrisseau’s work.
In my mind this film proved without a doubt that paintings like Hearn’s are a fake, the film features interviews from many, many different sides of the twisting and dark story of a Canadian artists.
Somehow though, when you get to the end and it looks after some very strong, brave and resilient characters came together to prove the story and it will have a happy ending a black screen come up. Writing lets the viewers know that Kevin did not win his court case, for reasons that still tear me up inside when I think about it. This is a truly touching documentary and I can almost guarantee that it touched the hearts of every person in that theatre and must have made at least half of them want to take some sort of action.
I strongly urge anybody who has the opportunity to see this film to do so, regardless of if you are interested in art or music, this documentary tells a very important story that the world should know. It makes you feel emotions that few documentaries can and I truly believe will have an impact that most films never will. Thank you to Jamie Kastner for creating such a unique and authentic piece of art.
We would like to thank Charlene Coy Of
C2C Communication for the invitation to this event.