ARKANSAS TIMES FILM SERIES: ‘F FOR FAKE’
TUESDAY 5/23. Riverdale 10 Cinema. 7 p.m.
One of the first lines uttered by director Orson Welles in “F for Fake” (1974) — a documentary that flirts with dramatic elements — is a message to the viewer: “Ladies and gentleman, by way of introduction, this is a film about trickery, fraud, about lies … But not this time. No, this is a promise. During the next hour, everything you’ll hear from us is really true and based on solid facts.” What follows is a trailblazing, video essay-esque exploration of Elmyr de Hory, a prolific art forger, via his biographer, Clifford Irving, a man notorious for having written an entirely falsified ghost autobiography of billionaire recluse Howard Hughes, an act so scandalous that it caused Hughes to come out of self-imposed exile to issue a response.
With the help of a skillful editing style that may or may not have been designed to playfully deceive the audience, Welles — the mind behind perhaps the most revered movie of all time, “Citizen Kane” — uses his second-to-last completed film to parse essential themes at the heart of artmaking, like authenticity and authorship. “If you get on the film’s wavelength and listen to what he’s saying and watch what he’s doing, it’s riveting,” said director Peter Bogdanovich, who Welles lived with during the production of “F for Fake.” “If you fight it, and you expect it to be a linear kind of thing, then you’re not going to enjoy it.”