On February 1, TVO presents the world broadcast premiere of TVO Original There Are No Fakes. The feature documentary from filmmaker Jamie Kastner dives into the shadowy world of art fraud in Canada and brings into question the legacy of Anishinaabe artist and Canadian icon Norval Morrisseau.
“Norval Morrisseau is a towering figure in Canadian art,” says John Ferri, TVO Vice President of Current Affairs and Documentaries. “But the great appeal and enduring popularity of his iconic work has a dark side. There Are No Fakes is a journey into that darkness, and a brilliant exposé of how greed can corrupt a thing of beauty.”
When a painting attributed to Morrisseau that is bought by Barenaked Ladies musician Kevin Hearn is labelled a fake, Hearn winds up suing the gallery that sold it to him. He soon finds himself in the middle of a feud between two warring factions, each claiming to be the true defenders of Morrisseau’s legacy. Questioning the authenticity of Hearn’s painting throws into doubt some 3,000 Morrisseau-attributed works worth $30,000,000. Epithets are slung, suits and countersuits pile up, and rocks are thrown through gallery windows.
The story takes a darker turn when the investigations arrive in Thunder Bay, Morrisseau’s birthplace. What starts out as a story about art fraud quickly evolves into revelations of Indigenous exploitation, abuse and violence.
“Coming across the story that became There Are No Fakes felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience as a filmmaker,” says Jamie Kastner. “Meeting the people involved and learning their stories was a series of jaw-dropping moments, from amusing to horrifying, all quite unbelievable. It’s an experience I’ve tried to recreate for the audience.”
There Are No Fakes repeats February 3 and February 5 and will be available to stream anytime beginning February 1 on tvo.org.
A special screening of There Are No Fakes will take place on Monday, January 20 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto. TVO’s Colin Ellis will lead a Q&A following the film with Jamie Kastner and Kevin Hearn. More info and tickets.