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Review: There Are No Fakes

July 19, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

When Kevin Hearn, the keyboard player and guitarist for the beloved Canadian band the Barenaked Ladies, bought a painting by Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau for twenty thousand dollars, he was shocked to find out that the painting was actually a fake, just one of many fake Morrisseau paintings that are reportedly on the market in Canada.

Hearn decided to take the Toronto gallery that sold him the painting to court, wading into a dark web of crime far beyond what he expected, with anyone who tries to expose the truth about the forged paintings being threatened.

Director Jamie Kastner documents the ensuing legal battle in his new documentary There Are No Fakes, finding that the forgery ring stretches far and wide throughout Canada, connecting it to a shocking crime ring that harmed countless lives.

Hearn’s painting and the art forgery become almost secondary to the real story, which is one of sickening abuse that in many ways mirrors Canada’s larger history of cultural genocide. Throughout the film’s many twists and turns, There Are No Fakes becomes an extremely unsettling but startlingly brave look at how First Nations people are still exploited and abused in this country in a multitude of different ways. It’s not an easy film to watch, but it is an important one.

There Are No Fakes is now playing in limited release at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto, tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

A version of this review was originally published during the 2019 Hot Docs Film Festival.

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