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‘Art and Craft’ Explores the Value in Philanthropic Forgery

'Art and Craft' Explores the Value in Philanthropic Forgery

The film is dizzying in its portrayal of the man (is he simple-minded or a genius?) whose art equals craft and who has supplied many, many museums
of artfully forged paintings by masters across the ages. Is he an artist or just a very talented forger? I think his forging is an art in

It fits into a genre of “art films” dealing with eccentric (and lovable) artists (and their collectors or copiers), such as “Tim’s Vermeer”, “Herb
and Dorothy: 50 x 50
” or “Cutie and the Boxer” or “Bill Cunningham“. What types of people these artists are brings viewers to experience an amazing
range of distinctive and odd folk. Not only is art (or the love of art in the case of “Herb and Dorothy”) a tough passion, it is based upon tough
eccentric personalities whose passions carry them though tough times in which their survival an issue that they choose to overlook even while
knowing it is important. Art is their life, not survival.
Mark Landis has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. His impressive body of work spans thirty years, covering a wide range of
painting styles and periods that includes 15th Century Icons, Picasso, and even Walt Disney. And while the copies could fetch impressive sums on the open
market, Landis isn’t in it for money.
He poses as a philanthropic donor, a grieving executor of a family member’s will, and most recently as a Jesuit priest. Landis has given away hundreds of
works over the years to a staggering list of institutions across the United States. When Matthew Leininger, a tenacious registrar who sets out to expose his career as philanthropic forger, Landis is force to confront his false legacy.

It becomes clear that this story is bigger than its art
world foundation when Landis opens up about his past, his family and his struggles with mental illness. Afflicted by schizophrenia and multiple behavioral disorders, Landis had been ostracized his whole life as someone struggling with those conditions. His elaborate thirty-year con had become a means to change all that, allowing him to
regain control and finally be given respect. He found purpose in philanthropy, which was nothing short of an addiction. 

The film starts out questioning authorship and authenticity, but what emerges is a much more intimate human story of obsession and the
universal need for community, appreciation, and purpose.

Art and Craft” is being distributed in the U.S. by Oscilloscope Pictures, in Canada by Blue Ice Docs. International Sales are being handle by Autlook Film Sales.


Sam Cullman
co-directed, shot and produced the Oscar®-nominated documentary, “If a Tree Falls“and
was a Producer and Director of Photography on the Sundance Grand Jury prize-winning “The House I Live in.” Previously, his camerawork appeared in dozens of documentaries including “King Con“and “Why We Fight.”

Prior to his work in documentary, Cullman had his own background in the arts as a former printmaker and painter.


Jennifer Grausman

directed and produced the Emmy-nominated documentary, “Pressure Cooker.”Grausman also co-produced “3 Backyards,” and produced six
short films. Previously she was the Manager of Exhibition and Film Funding at The Museum of Modern Art. Grausman grew up in the art world – her uncle
is a sculptor and her aunt owned a gallery.


Mark Becker
produced, directed and edited the Independent Spirit-nominated documentary “Romantico,” and directed and
edited the Emmy-nominated film “Pressure Cooker.” He
has edited several documentaries including “The  Lost Boys of Sudan” and “Circo.”

Art and Craftopens today at the  Landmark’s Nuart Theater in West LA, the film is also currently playing in NYC.

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