“Captivating… one of the largest and most unique deceptions the art world has ever seen.” — The Daily Beast
Art and Craft premieres Friday, September 25, 2015, at 10 PM on PBS stations.
Mark Landis could be described as a genuine work of art. His Southern accent and genteel manner recall Truman Capote at his grandest. Landis occasionally masquerades as a priest, sips brandy from a Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia bottle and has dedicated much of his life’s work to a nonexistent sister.
Unlike most art forgers, Landis was never in it for the money. He gave away his forgeries. One of his primary motivations, however, was universal: he wanted acceptance and respect. Art and Craft will likely earn him both, and perhaps confer cult status on the mild-mannered 59-year-old.
Directors Sam Cullman (co-director of the Oscar®-nominated If a Tree Falls) and Jennifer Grausman (Emmy®-nominated Pressure Cooker) and co-director Mark Becker (Independent Spirit-nominated Rom´ntico) tell the story of an enigmatic, vastly talented and sometimes troubled man who, through hard work, perseverance and almost majestic chutzpah, fooled the art world for nearly a third of a century.
“In The New York Times, The Financial Times and other publications, the curators he duped wondered aloud: Was Landis a failed artist trying to get back at the art world that had rejected him? Was he a kind of Robin Hood for the arts with dreams of bringing great works to the masses? Or was he some kind of a performance artist, intent on questioning notions of originality and authorship?”, write filmmakers Jennifer Grausman and Sam Cullman in a filmmaker statement.
“Before we knew it, we were filming Landis at work as both forger and ‘philanthropist.’ But it was not until Landis began to open up about his past, his family and his struggles with mental illness, that we soon realized this story was in fact bigger than its art world foundation. Diagnosed as a teenager with schizophrenia and multiple behavioral disorders in the 1970s, Landis had endured a lifetime of marginalization as a person living with mental illness—and 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 his calling and over time, Landis became ‘addicted to philanthropy.'”
Visit the POV companion site for Art and Craft to watch the full film online for free for a limited time following the broadcast (starting September 266, 2015), find out what’s happened since the cameras stopped rolling, and download a discussion guide and other viewing resources. Share your thoughts and ask questions by using the hashtag #artandcraft.