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film review

Spirit Energy of Mother Earth.Cave 7 Productions Inc.

  • There are No Fakes
  • Written and directed by: Jamie Kastner
  • Classification: N/A; 113 minutes


3 out of 4 stars

In 2005, musician Kevin Hearn of the Barenaked Ladies bought a painting attributed to Ojibwe artist Norval Morrisseau. When professional curators pronounced it fake, he sued the dealer who sold it to him. The allegation of widespread Morriseau forgeries is still before the courts – Hearn initially lost and is appealing – but this new documentary by filmmaker Jamie Kastner expands the story to uncover a shocking tale of counterfeit art, sexual abuse and colonialist exploitation.

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Kevin Hearn (of the Barenaked Ladies) spent $20,000 at a reputable Toronto gallery to purchase Spirit Energy of Mother Earth.Cave 7 Productions Inc.

Kastner begins with Hearn’s full participation but also interviews dealers and collectors who argue the allegations of forgery are simply an attempt by the unscrupulous to corner the Morrisseau market. Going beyond careful media accounts of the original trial, Kastner gives those disputants enough rope to hang themselves and they repeatedly oblige. Beyond that, the surprising doc draws the link between the forgeries and the ringleader of the alleged fraud, a Thunder Bay man named Gary Lamont now serving five years on five counts of sexual assault. The film does leave questions unanswered, not least of which is why no other charges have been laid.

Ojibwe artist Norval Morrisseau.National Film Board of Canada / Cave 7 Productions Inc.

There are No Fakes opens June 14 in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

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