Transcript: Ep. 7 - Who gets to profit from Indigenous art? | Dec 17, 2019

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to
a TVO podcast.
COLIN: I'm Colin Ellis, and
you're listening to On Docs,
a podcast about documentaries
and the stories they tell.

There Are No Fakes,
a TVO
original documentary,
takes us through two very
different worlds.
From the fine art galleries
of Toronto's fanciest
neighbourhoods
to the criminal underbelly of
Thunder Bay.
But what connects them? The
paintings of Norval Morrisseau,
a very influential
Anishinaabe artist.
WOMAN: Norval Morrisseau has
huge significance,
he's the first contemporary
Indigenous art star.
MAN: But there were people who
have been poisoning
Morrisseau's legacy.
SECOND MAN:
This painting is a lie.
(Crowd cheering)
KEVIN: That's when I went into
the gallery.
I bought my painting.
Little did I know, the spider
web was around me.
COLIN: Close your eyes. Imagine
bright piercing colours
outlined in bold black paint.
Figures that depict animals,
spiritual symbolism,
and traditional
Anishinaabe stories.
Even if you've never heard of
Norval Morrisseau,
you've likely seen his work,
whether it's at an art gallery
or at a gift shop.
And if you have heard of him,
you might know
a bit about his story.
He's known as the godfather of
the Woodlands School of art.
And in the 1960s, he became
the first Indigenous artist
to show his work in a
contemporary art gallery.
But his influence extended far
beyond any gallery wall.
NORVAL (RECORDING): First you
drive me down to the pits
of the bottom of hell by your
missionaries...
and then later on,
you lift me up with medals. And
no matter what I want...
WOMAN: He really understood the
force and the power that he had
and played with that, in the
same way he was really pushing
art in new directions, he was
pushing the way people thought
of Indigenous people in new
directions, also.
COLIN: Fast forward
to the mid-2000s.
Kevin Hearn from the Barenaked
Ladies is looking to buy
a Morrisseau work, and finds one
at an art gallery in Toronto,
but not long after, he's told
that the painting is a fake.
JAMIE: When he shows it as part
of a guest curatorship
at the AGO and senior curators
their raise grave doubts about
its authenticity and order that
it be taken down from the show
and it can't be called a
Morrisseau.
COLIN: That's Jamie Kastner,
the documentary filmmaker
who also happens to be an old
high school friend of Hearn's.
JAMIE: And Kevin goes back and
tries to deal with this
with the gallery owner, who
refuses to give him
his money back, and Kevin, in
short order, finds himself
in the middle of quite
a large feud
with a crazy cast of characters.
COLIN: When Jamie heard about
Hearn's legal battle against
the art gallery, he set out to
make a documentary about it.
In the process, he meets that
crazy cast of characters,
and learns some shocking things
about the lengths some people
will go to profit off of
Indigenous artists' work.

Jamie Kastner, thank you so much
for joining us today.
JAMIE: Thank you for having me.
COLIN: Well, I guess we'll
just--
we'll start from the very
beginning.
How did this story come to you?
JAMIE: This story came to me
completely at random.
I knew Kevin Hearn of
the Barenaked Ladies
from high school, and in
addition to playing with
the Barenaked Ladies, he also
plays-- played with Lou Reed.
And it so happens that he was
Lou Reed's musical director
for the last seven years of
Lou's life.
COLIN:
Oh, wow.
JAMIE: So I had known Kevin,
and I actually approached him
around the time Lou died,
within a year or
two of Lou's death--
so, I think this was 2015--
about doing a Lou documentary.
And Kevin and I had not been
in close touch
in the intervening decades,
but you know, still friendly.
And, uh, it was not to be,
the Lou thing,
at that point.
But he said I'm involved
in this other story
that might be of interest to
you, and he pulled out his phone
and he showed me this
National Post
article,
and began telling me about this
court case
he was involved in, and that's
how it all began.
COLIN: And this-- and this court
case involved, he was, I guess
suing an art gallery that had
sold him a fake
Norval Morrisseau painting.
Can you just talk about who
Norval Morrisseau was?
And why he was so important?
JAMIE: Norval Morrisseau is one
of the most important
Canadian artists, period.
Uh, and certainly one of the
most important
Indigenous Canadian artists.
He was the first-- he came from
abject poverty,
kind of, born in Thunder Bay,
and... living in, around
Beardmore, and there--
and came from living on a dirt
floor,
and you know,
growing up in the full
residential school experience,
and... and all the attendant
horrors,
to becoming, fairly young,
the first--
he was the first Indigenous art
star anywhere.
He created an entire school of
painting which very few artists,
including, say, the Group of
Seven, did not do.
And Morrisseau's, the so-called
Woodlands School,
it's been called,
is built on a world of mythical
animal-rooted figures
that are drawn from Anishinaabe
myth and culture,
and had previously, you know,
not existed
as artwork, per se.
But that became the basis
for the visual language
and the school of art that he
created.
Which is now incredibly
recognizable,
it's what comes to mind for most
people when you think
of what native painting
looks like.
COLIN: I was gonna say,
I recognized it
when I saw the film,
and I didn't know it was him,
but I had definitely seen
his art before.
I remember seeing Tanya Talaga's
last book,
Seven Fallen Feathers,
uh,
I think that was her--
his son who painted the cover
of that, yeah.
JAMIE: His son-- his son who is
in the film.
COLIN:
Right.
JAMIE: And whose-- and whose
son, in other words,
Morrisseau's grandson, is one of
the
Seven Fallen Feathers.
COLIN: Yeah.
JAMIE: Yes, it's a style that is
widely imitated and adopted.
Or, you know, for it to become a
school of painting,
there are now many, many artists
working in that school,
but he really created it.
He was seen-- his work was seen
by Picasso and Chagall.
He showed in Europe at
the Pompidou Centre,
among other places.
He got the moniker "Picasso of
the North,"
and he was the first Indigenous
artist
to have a full retrospective--
a solo retrospective at the,
National Gallery of Canada
which was in 2006, a year before
his death.
MAN (RECORDING): It's Norval
Morrisseau,
a 31- year-old Ojibwa painter,
whose works were publicly
displayed
for the first time last week.
WOMAN (RECORDING):
What is your name?
NORVAL (RECORDING):
(Speaks Ojibwa language)
WOMAN: It's a...
NORVAL: But if you want to say
it in Ojibwa, it's...
(Speaking Ojibwa language)
(Woman repeating)
(Norval laughing)
WOMAN: Not even close, eh?
(Both laughing)
COLIN:
So where does his life take him?
Where does he, kind of, end up?
I mean,
he's had this major success.
JAMIE: He had a wild...
so, yeah, he kinda
came from nothing,
had this huge success early on.
He had a pretty wild-- he was a
rock star,
and he led a rock star life.
That's how I look at it.
Um, he... he, um, you know,
was heavily into drinking
and other substances at
different times.
He really lived, and from what I
gather, embraced
the highs and the lows, you
know?
And took it all as part of the
experience of being alive.
You know, and went from, you
know, lavish riding around
in limos to... to sleeping on
the streets.
You know, well into his... the
time of...
past the time he'd become
famous.
He had various dealings with a
whole range of people
along the way, and... and then
at a certain point,
the last 20 years of his life,
he kind of-- he cleaned up,
and became very-- let's say his
heyday was--
his initial heyday was in
the '60s and '70s,
and while his output remained
considerable,
extremely prolific, I think,
throughout--
going through a variety of
different phases, and sort of
variations on the Woodland theme
and colour schemes and so on,
he then, um, so let's see.
He died in 2007,
quickly doing the math...
so yes, from the late '80s,
living in Vancouver
at that point,
he kind of...
took under wing, and was in turn
taken under wing,
by a fellow who became his
adoptive son,
and then subsequently that
fellow's wife, as well,
the Vadases, and kind of cleaned
up, and became
extremely productive, and his
professional career rose again.
He began-- he was then
represented by a Yorkville
gallery, and began, you know,
doing well again.
And then he got Parkinson's,
and ultimately, you know,
died of complications
in 2007.
COLIN: Well, I want to go back
to Kevin Hearn's part in this,
because I mean, he sues the
gallery that sold him this
painting, um, and this leads to,
I guess, a court case,
and all these very interesting
characters kinda show up.
Can you just talk about who are
some of the people
that are on the side of the
gallery in this?
JAMIE:
Well, so Kevin buys this
painting, and I believe
it's around 2006, I don't have
every single date in mind.
Morrisseau is still alive, but
not for-- not for too long.
But he is still alive, because
the gallery owner,
whose name is Joe McLeod--
so Kevin buys this painting
at a reputable-seeming gallery
in Yorkville
called Maslak McLeod.
The gentleman who sells
it to him, Joe McLeod,
also represents some of
Morrisseau's sons,
and has a bunch of Morrisseau's
work there,
and it seems like a legit place.
And he tells Kevin
at the time,
"Oh, the value is going to go up
a lot."
He buys the painting for
$20,000.
It's called "Spirit Energy of
Mother Earth,"
and he is told the painting will
go up in value
when Morrisseau dies, which is
not particularly why
Kevin is buying it, but you
know, nevertheless,
shelling out 20,000 bucks for
something.
So he-- he begins to have doubts
about the authenticity
of this painting, um, when he
shows it as part of
a guest curatorship at the AGO,
and senior curators there raise
graves doubts
about its authenticity, and
order that it be taken down
from the show, and it can't be
called a Morrisseau.
And Kevin goes back and tries to
deal with this
with the gallery owner, who
refuses to give him
his money back, or do anything
to pursue, you know,
the doubts that have-- that have
crept in about this work.
And Kevin in short order finds
himself in the middle
of quite a large feud, with a
crazy cast of characters.
Uh, who range from gallery
owners
to auctioneers to collectors,
all of whom are deeply invested
in a species, let's call it, of
Morrisseau paintings
that are broadly known
as the black drybrush
type of Morrisseaus.
And they're called that-- which
is the type Kevin had bought,
and they're called black
drybrush because Morrisseau
typically signed his paintings
on the front
in a series of Cree syllabics.
And then there's this species of
paintings, and there are
an estimated 3,000 of these
paintings around,
which are signed on the back in
English,
in a kind of faded black paint
that looks as though
it's the kind of paint that was
used up-- you know,
if you were painting in black on
the front and then you
flipped the canvas over and
finished off what was
on the brush, so it's kind of
fading.
Those are the black drybrush
paintings,
so they're actually fairly-- you
don't need a PhD to tell
the difference between the-- the
doubtful ones,
and the non-disputed ones.
COLIN: I was going to ask,
'cause I mean--
JAMIE: There are other-- other
attributes to it. Sorry.
COLIN: Just 'cause, to the
untrained eye,
if you were to see that
painting, the one Kevin has,
it looks pretty... I mean, to
me, at least, I'm a novice,
it looks like
a real Morrisseau painting.
It's certainly beautiful.
Um, but I guess it's kind of
hard to tell,
if it wasn't for this--
I guess, black brush,
it would be impossible
to tell, right?
JAMIE: I wouldn't say it's
impossible to tell.
As people discuss in the film,
there are-- there are other
tell-tale signs of this--
that raise doubts about
Morrisseau paintings... colour
schemes, types of figures
that he used, the general kind
of visual language,
the iconography, the brush
strokes, the...
you know, he painted with his
finger at certain times.
And there's a sequence in which
he typically created
his paintings, from drawings to
colours to outlines
to this thick black outline at
the end. And some of...
So once you begin to become
acquainted with that language,
you can tell the difference
without even saying--
you know, presuming to say what
is real or what is not myself,
you know, you can see that there
are-- there is a distinct--
a couple of distinct species of
Morrisseaus out there.
COLIN: I've heard you say the
word "species" of painting.
Can you just... why do you say
"species?" What's that?
JAMIE: Species, I think it's
actually a term--
I picked up on a term
that one of the lawyers used in
the film, Brian Shiller,
the lawyer for Joe McLeod used
in the film to describe it.
I mean, you could call it a
trench, a section,
of the body... in other words,
it's a distinct group of
paintings
within the body of Morrisseau's
oeuvre.
You know, that have distinctive
characteristics,
different from the rest of what
he did. That's all I mean.
COLIN: Okay.
JAMIE: Most notably, there is
the black drybrush,
but on top of that, there is...
there is certain
milky colour schemes as opposed
to the bright colours
Morrisseau often used.
There is a certain fixation on
very toothy creatures.
There are other things that
people...
that people who know better than
I explain in the film
about what makes this group of
paintings,
or species of paintings.
COLIN: Were you familiar with,
like, art fraud
before doing this film? Was this
something that you had...
known much about, or how big of
an issue it was in Canada?
JAMIE: I was aware-- I was aware
of art fraud, you know,
as anybody is, these stories
crop up from time to time
in the paper, and your eyes kind
of widen hearing the sums
or hearing the brazenness of the
crime...
Or, you know, I think I've seen
the odd other doc on...
on this kind-- I had seen the
odd other doc.
But I was by no means an expert
on it,
or following this closely.
But as one does when you... when
you start making a film
on something, you begin to...
you know, plunge deeply
into the situation.
COLIN: So you mentioned-- or we
mentioned, this gallery,
they go to court with Kevin
Hearn,
and these other characters show
up. There's an art collector,
there's an auctioneer...
AUCTIONEER: Every time there's
an auction,
maybe every week or so,
I counted the number of
paintings that were there
and made a note.
And after a while, I got up to
800 paintings.
This is too many, and they don't
look quite right.
JAMIE: Over the course of your
auction career,
how many Morrisseaus did you
sell, roughly?
MAN: Probably 1,500 to 2,000, in
that ballpark area.
We went probably from making
probably two or three
hundred thousand a year to
making, you know,
one to two million dollars a
year.
It was the best thing that ever
happened to me in my life.
COLIN: What interest did they
have in, I guess, ensuring
that these paintings weren't
proven to be false? Or fake?
JAMIE: Well, they behave, first
of all, just to give you
the way that Kevin experienced
it, the way I heard about it,
and the way I try to lay it out
in the film for the audience,
yes-- he sort of, buys this
thing, has this dispute,
winds up in court, and is
suddenly in the middle
of this fray in which these
people with vested interests
are behaving in a way that one
would not normally associate
with, you know, the high
falutin' world of art,
of fine art.
COLIN: They're very working
class, I find.
They're not, like, elites.
JAMIE: I don't know. Well, I
wouldn't personally
characterize it as a class...
as a class issue, per se,
but it's because there are
some... there are some
refined people doing some terr--
you know,
superficially refined people
doing some scandalous things in
this film also.
COLIN: Absolutely.
JAMIE: Uh, but I would say there
are doing things you wouldn't--
this group of people are doing
things you don't normally
associate with the kind of wine-
and-cheese vernissage crowd.
You know, it's-- they are
slagging each other off
on camera, as they do online,
where they characterize--
people characterizing each other
as Nazis, you know,
likening the Morrisseau
conflict, to...
taking a view on it to the Nazis
burning books...
Uh, they are...
there are dozens of other
court cases
around this thing, they're an
incredibly litigious group
of people... and they are... it
even gets physical.
Rocks are thrown through gallery
windows,
people are putting other people
in headlocks on courtroom steps,
and here is, you know, mild-
mannered Kevin Hearn
wading into this.
MAN: A video showed a car
driving up in front
and someone getting out of it,
but the image was not defined
enough to be able to identify
the person.
At that time,
I was under severe stress.
Even my life had been
threatened.
We've got to do something about
this guy.
"Don Robinson, are you
listening?
"What are you gonna do when they
come for you?"
That made me feel...
JAMIE: The reason that they
are...
so passionate about it
is because there is actually a
huge amount
of money at stake, because...
There is... Kevin's painting,
the concern is the outcome of
Kevin's trial
will set a precedent
that will affect
the value of some 3,000 other
paintings
of the same species,
conservatively worth thirty
million dollars,
if you assume that each of those
paintings
are worth roughly... roughly
$10,000.
COLIN: That's amazing.
JAMIE: Making it, you know, the
largest art scam--
art fraud scam in Canadian
history.
COLIN: So a lot... a lot is at
stake, basically, in this case.
JAMIE: There is an enormous
amount at stake.
And what's at stake, although
it's cast in cultural terms,
often ironically, because you
have these factions
of mainly white people each, you
know, bad-mouthing each other,
each purportedly in the name of
defending
this Indigenous legend's
legacy...
Uh, what we know for sure is
that there is
a heck of a lot of money at
stake.
COLIN: I found it very ironic,
actually, that they would cast
it in that... like, I remember,
I think one gentleman
in particular says something
about the "white man"
to exploiting--
BOTH: Morrisseau.
COLIN: And he is himself white.
JAMIE: And he couldn't be
whiter.
COLIN: Yeah.
JAMIE: And I know, it is sort
of... but it's a deliberate,
and has for some time, been
quite a successful smokescreen.
You know, to pursue... to pursue
their strategy.
You know, it's very Trumpian,
in a way.
They're accusing
the accusers of...
of exactly what they are likely
guilty of themselves.
You know, they're exploiting,
very cynically, I would say,
the justifiable concerns
around Indigenous issues.
COLIN: Mm-hm. Did you find it
when you were interviewing them
kind of hard to trust what they
were telling you?
JAMIE: So I came to this,
as I mentioned, through Kevin.
You know, I knew Kevin. But I
said to Kevin,
and he told me the kind of bare
bones of this story
when we first met, and it is a
wild story.
So wild that I could barely
believe that what
he was telling me was true. I
mean, I really thought...
has this guy gotten... you know,
so obsessed with this
that he's lost perspective,
because the stuff
was so fantastical.
And I told him, but nevertheless
I was intrigued,
and I said to him, "you know,
listen.
"Even though we're friends, if I
do this,
"it's as a journalist, you'll
have no creative control
"and it's imperative that I get
the other side
of the story as well." And to
his credit,
he was totally fine with that,
and those were the terms
on which we proceeded.
And so then I...
I was handed a certain amount
of--
an amount of research and
characters
that Kevin and his lawyer,
Jonathan Summer,
had already dug up,
so that's a gift as a doc maker.
But then there was the
other side,
to whom they certainly had no
contact, that had to be--
had to be kind of, recruited.
And I believe that they
believe it.
You know, I believe that...
whatever that means.
You know, do they really, really
believe it?
Or have they just said it so
many times
that they believe it? Are they
so...
You know, people can believe all
sorts of things.
People join cults, people do
all... you know,
believe in all sorts of stuff
that I can't understand.
But you know, I don't know.
They're certainly convincing,
and they've convinced
themselves.
Or they're deeply enough
invested in their point of view
that they're holding their ears,
and they don't want
to hear anything to the
contrary.
COLIN: Well, this doc takes a
lot of twists, and I don't--
I really don't want to spoil
anything,
but it does lead you to Thunder
Bay, and there is this art,
I guess, forgery ring up there
that are connected
to Morrisseau's family.
And I just wonder what it was
like for you to uncover
that information while you were
filming?
Well, I had heard... I had heard
about this.
And I had heard about this, you
know, right from the beginning
when I-- when Kevin told me the
bones of the story.
And it's one of the things that
you're shaking your head,
saying "this cannot be."
You know, it sounds too wild to
be true!
We get wonderful access, I'm
happy to say, in the film
to a number of people
very deeply involved in all
aspects,
who speak to this.
The audience can decide whom to
believe or not.
People... some people admit to
things, some people...
accuse others of things.
Those people, in some cases, get
a chance to respond.
I would say that...
that Morrisseau lived many
lives.
And he had, I believe--
I hope I'm not getting this
number wrong.
He had six or seven children
with his-- with his wife.
And he left them behind...
as, you know, fame
and his rock star life,
which included, you know,
sex with men, relationships
with men,
and you know...
And I imagine that there are--
there are...
he is an anomaly, right? He came
from nothing, and he struck it.
He became a star. And that
didn't happen
to his other family members who
remained in the same kind
of situation that he grew up in.
And people in desperate
circumstances
do desperate things, and...
you know.
So... on a certain level,
a number of revelations
in this story are shocking.
On another hand,
I hope they're placed in a
context in which people--
people can understand why such
things might happen.
And I view... I think there are
a lot of victims in this film.
And, you know...
and then there's a handful
of bad guys
who, conveniently, I suppose,
happen to all be white.
And they're the people who,
uh... they're the people
who have really been profiting
from this.
They're the people who've been
making millions of dollars.
And it's not the poorer people
in Thunder Bay who have been.
COLIN: Do you think of
Morrisseau as a victim in this?
JAMIE: Absolutely. I think that,
um...
I mean, I think he is a complex
character.
I don't think one could
characterize him
only as a victim.
He led the life he wanted to
lead,
and that took him many wild
places, and he made--
and he made a number of
decisions which...
which you and I might consider,
you know, questionable,
or unconventional.
I think part of the decision...
some of the decisions he made,
I would guess, are informed by
his... you know,
his world view as an Anishinaabe
person,
as opposed to a white person,
in terms--
certainly in terms of issues
surrounding ownership,
exclusive versus communal
ownership.
I think there's all sorts of
layers to this.
So there's nothing simple to be
said about Morrisseau.
But I do think he is a victim in
this scam,
and it's a huge scam that...
that he tried to fight, without
giving too much away,
although we can't seem to help
ourselves here.
But he, uh..
you know... it devalued his work
financially,
and it devalues his... the
value...
it devalues his legacy.
As Greg Hill, the Indigenous
curator--
Indigenous art curator from the
National Gallery
says in the film, you know, the
kind of integrity of his--
of his legacy is key
to establishing his worth
as an artist. If it starts
getting watered down
by all this inferior crap that's
flooding the market,
purporting to be Morrisseaus,
that messes with his value in...
in all regards.
You know, aesthetic, historical,
financial.
So yes, I definitely see him as
a victim in that regard.
COLIN: Was it tricky for you as
a non-Indigenous person
to, I guess, approach this film,
or this subject?
How comfortable were you, I
guess, making it?
JAMIE: Well, I mean... I am, you
know, I have, among other things
done a certain amount of
investigative journalism,
and I saw this initially
as mainly an art fraud
and a kind of cultural
fraud film.
And as I really began to
understand the...
the, uh, depths
that it would require going
to within,
you know, the Indigenous
community,
I had a number of... I had a
number of advisors,
as one inevitably does plunging
into another world
for an investigation.
Um, a number of whom are
Indigenous people.
And many of whom wanted to
remain behind the scenes
because there's a lot of risk
involved in this.
I mean, we're-- thank you,
carefully dancing around
talking about where this film
goes in the second hour
in Thunder Bay, but suffice to
say, you meet some
really nasty people who are
still out there.
Or you meet the victims of some
very nasty people.
And there is a lot... you meet a
lot of nasty people, too.
I don't want you to feel like
you don't.
You're not going to be cheated
in that regard.
Uh, so these... these advisors
of mine,
these Indigenous advisors, many
of whom feel it's better
for them to operate behind the
scenes,
but were-- were involved right
from the get-go.
I couldn't have gotten the
access I got without them.
They had to trust me.
And ultimately, I persuaded one
of these--
one of these people to kind of
step forward
and take his rightful credit.
And I'm referring to Mark
Anthony Jacobson,
who is the executive producer of
the film.
He's a Woodland-- a senior
Woodland artist,
an Anishinaabe artist based
currently in BC
who was a friend of
Morrisseau's,
and who has been deeply involved
in this--
in this case for over a decade,
so long before I was involved.
And brought together many of the
key... of the key players.
And without his involvement and
blessing, you know,
this story could not have come
to the surface.
So him and other people
wanted...
So I had the involvement of a
number of Indigenous people,
deeply involved, guiding right
from the get-go.
So that kind of, you know, made
me more comfortable with that,
with those aspects of it.
Beyond that, I think there is
some value in journalism
to coming from the outside.
I think that, you know,
you've alluded to family members
being involved... this story has
been sitting there.
You know, the first story was
written in a major paper
about fake Morrisseaus, that I'm
aware of, in 2000,
in the
National Post.
The story
has been sitting there
since then, and has been covered
extensively,
and I think the reason that no
one has touched it until now
is 'cause they were afraid of
touching it,
for one reason or another.
The threats of the extremely
litigious bullies
involved in this thing.
Uh, and... and I can see how
from within
the Indigenous community, it
would be exponentially touchy
to address some of this stuff.
So sometimes, maybe it's better
to have someone with...
with no dog in the fight to come
in and tell the story.
That's what journalists are for.
COLIN: Did you feel a sense
of...
I guess, an adrenaline rush
making this film?
JAMIE: Do you mean was
I scared? Yes.
(Both laughing)
Yes, I was. I mean, you know...
I don't know how I got into
doing this work. Six years ago,
I was making a film on disco.
I mean, I've done stuff... I
done lighter stuff,
I've done heavier stuff, often a
mix of the two.
I've found myself in some hairy
situations before
on previous films for TVO, in
fact.
Um, but-- and others.
But the... the, um... yeah.
Definitely.
You're entering a criminal world
in a small city
that you're not from, and people
are telling you
very private and risky stuff.
You know, I flew in, and I was
there a number of times.
I'm talking about Thunder Bay,
which has since become,
you know... celebrated for its
notoriety,
if you could say that.
But at the time, nobody had
particularly heard of it.
It was not a selling point when
I was pitching this film
to say "ooh, and then we go to
Thunder Bay!"
People were like, "What?"
(Both laughing)
But the... you know, I flew in
and out of there,
'cause you just don't know. You
don't know who knows.
You don't know.
Yes, I was scared. You don't
know who knows what.
You don't know who is talking to
whom, and what's going on...
And there's... yeah. So yes.
There were definitely some
moments of trepidation.
COLIN: How do you feel
about it now?
I mean, how many months ago did
you kinda wrap it up?
JAMIE: Well, I mean it launched
at the Hot Docs Festival,
so in the spring, that was the
beginning of May,
so it's been a few months. How
do I feel? Am I still scared?
COLIN: Well, are you... I guess,
like, watching it from like,
you have a little bit of
distance from it now.
I guess I wonder how does it
make you feel when you watch it?
JAMIE: Well, I mean, I feel...
there are many aspects.
I'm very proud of it, as a piece
of work.
I'm proud of what we all, you
know...
many people are involved in the
making of these things,
and the work that was done with
my excellent crew.
My editor, Mike Hannon, who sat
there, you know,
with me for six plus months
fine-tuning all of this stuff.
The... so I'm very proud of it
as a piece of work.
I'm very thrilled and relieved
that it's gotten
the extremely warm reception
that it's gotten.
I don't... I tend to make things
that are controversial
and political, and so I don't
always expect a...
an entirely warm welcome, but
this film
has pretty well gotten that, and
I'll take it.
You know, I'm delighted.
I did have the sense that I was
working on something...
you know, it sounds kind of
corny and presumptuous to say,
but you know, it landed in my
lap, and I had the sense
of a certain responsibility,
that something important...
an important Canadian story had
landed, and you know,
I had to do it justice.
And so I'm very glad that
people are...
as astounded and appalled by
this story as I hoped
they would be when it came out.
There are aspects... there are
parts of the film,
you know, it's been... it's
still touring around
in theatres and festivals, so I
go to some of them
and still go and do Q&As,
and there are still parts of the
film that I find
painful to watch,
and... what these people are
laying bare,
and that is incredible.
I mean, yeah.
There are a couple of real
heroic characters in the film.
And I'll say that I believe also
that... that in addition
to some people we get to later
in the film, I think--
I think Kevin Hearn's pursuit of
the whole thing,
and dogged pursuit of it is
also heroic,
and really should be commended.
I mean, there are a lot of
people who--
a lot of art cases, art fraud
cases,
don't go all the way to
conviction,
because it requires significant
amounts of like, determination
and money to see them through,
and most people lack one or the
other of those things.
Luckily we're dealing with, you
know, a rock star
who got piqued by the injustice
of this.
Initially, personally, but then
I think was moved
by the much larger injustices
that he unearthed,
he and his lawyer unearthed as
they pursued it,
and has been driven to follow it
all the way.
COLIN: Well, it's a great film,
and I just want to thank you
so much for coming in and
sharing all this time with us.
JAMIE: Oh, thanks, Colin!
It's my pleasure. Thank you.

Just a week after
I talked to Kastner,
the court of appeal ruled in
Hearn's favour.
The judge awarded him $60,000,
and said that the gallery was
deliberately elusive
in proving the authenticity of
the painting.
And that's the podcast.
There Are No Fakes
premieres
February first
on broadcast and on TVO.org.
Now we're gonna take a little
pod-cation,
but we promise to be back in
2020 with brand new episodes,
so please stay subscribed to
this feed.
If you like what you heard,
leave us a review
on Apple podcasts, and better
yet, tell a friend.
You can write to us at
OnDocs@TVO.org,
and let us know what you think
of this episode.
And you can also follow me on
Twitter @ColinEllis81.
Thanks to producers Chantal
Braganza and Matthew O'Mara,
and production support
coordinators Nikki Ashworth
and Jonathan Halliwell.
Kathy Vey is the executive
producer for digital.
Catch you at the next screening.

Watch: Ep. 7 - Who gets to profit from Indigenous art?