In the Works: ART AND CRAFT

The story of a notorious art forger who feels compelled to donate his work to museums across the country.

art and craftOver thirty years, Mark Landis has honed his painting skills to enable him to make remarkable copies of a wide range of artwork. Unusually, rather than profit financially from his forgeries, Landis instead began contacting small museums and other institutions under assumed identities to donate his work, passing them off as rare originals. When Matthew Leininger, a museum registrar, grew suspicious of one instance of Landis’ “philanthropy,” his investigation uncovered Landis’ deception, involving more than 45 museums in nearly twenty cities, and ultimately resulted in a museum exhibition of the forgeries. Filmmakers Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, and Mark Becker began telling Landis’ tale when he was exposed, and have followed him for the past several years, learning of the mental illness that drives his unorthodox behavior.

Having already reached 75% of their goal, the filmmakers are on track for a successful Kickstarter campaign. There are still three weeks left to contribute to their post-production costs. For more information on the project, keep updated via the film’s website.

The film team have an impressive body of credits, from Cullman’s Oscar-nominated IF A TREE FALLS and THE HOUSE I LIVE IN to Grausman’s 3 BACKYARDS, and, also with Becker, PRESSURE COOKER, among other titles. They’ve located a fascinating subject in Landis, enabling an unusual and provocative melding of outsider artist portraiture, mental health study, and art world send-up. I’m eager to see the results of this promising premise in a finished form.

Note: If you have a feature documentary currently in production or post-production and would like to be considered for an In the Works profile, tell me about it here.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, In the Works

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