San Francisco International Film Festival, I saw Art and Craft, a fascinating documentary about the curious case of art forger Mark Landis, whose donations of faked art works to museums across the country constitute a con on multiple levels, even though he's technically doing nothing illegal. It's great fun getting to know the charming & eccentric Mr. Landis, who talks candidly about his family, his deceits & his history of mental illness. He creates a fake Picasso for the camera, using embarrassingly simple means. The film amusingly pits him against Matthew Leininger, a former museum registrar who is obsessed with tracking down his forgeries. When an exhibition of Mr. Landis's work opens at the University of Cincinnati, there's an entertaining showdown between the two, & the delighted festival audience applauded Mr. Landis's parting shot. The Noir-ish score by Stephen Ulrich is wonderful at establishing the film's atmosphere of intrigue.
Director Jennifer Grausman attended the screening & did a Q&A. The film was shot over a 3 year period, starting in 2011. We learned that Mr. Landis goes to bed at 5p & gets up at midnight. He often wanted to film at 4 in the morning. Ms. Grausman suspects that there are way more Landis forgeries in museum collections than Mr. Leininger has found (& yes, San Francisco is on the list). She also informed us that the film will be released theatrically in the fall.
This was the only festival screening I attended that did not start on time. A technical snafu prevented the staff from letting us into the theater until 20 minutes past the scheduled time, & the festival audience waited patiently in the hallway. There was appreciative applause once the film got rolling, half an hour late.
§ Art and Craft
Directors: Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, Mark Becker
USA, 2013, 89 mins.
§ The 57th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival
May 4, 2014, 6:00 p.m. Sundance Kabuki Cinema
May 5, 2014, 8:40 p.m. BAM/PFA
May 8, 2014, 8:15 p.m. Sundance Kabuki Cinema