Cinema Simply Different

Every story is also a lie. Except for the following. This is what a mischievous Orson Welles promises at the beginning of F For Fake, flashing a devilish grin; right before he leads us into the world of forgery and swindle – a treacherous house of mirrors. Its main attractions are the impish art forger Elmyr de Hory and his biographer Clifford Irwing. Together they constitute the point of origin from where society’s authenticity is being outlined. Why is it that a forged Matisse is less valuable than the original? Why are we so fascinated by illusion? When does a lie become a truth?


In his experimental yet highly entertaining essay film, Welles plays with the concept of truth, coaxes it gently and discards it again instantly. In hyperbolic fashion, he portrays truth as a collectively accepted lie, and deceit as one to be dismissed. One expert deems a drawing of Hory a real Picasso, while another calls it a fake. Like a sarcastic harlequin, Wells holds testimony against testimony, all the while keeping the viewers in a suspended state of doubt – which is precisely where truth and deceit lose all meaning, making room for the magical. Authenticity is a lie; and artists are the quacks who render it socially acceptable.

Nico Uebersax

Translated by Alicia Schümperli


Other films in this program