Enthralling doco gets up close to four-year-old New York painting genius Marla Olmstead and her family. Is Marla the actual artist or does she receive all sorts of "coaching" from her devoted dad?
Screened as part of NZIFF 2007
Adorable four-year-old Marla Olmstead lives in Binghamton, New York. She has a cute little brother, two doting parents and a prodigious amount of talent in the painting department... or does she? In the first half of this effortlessly entertaining documentary, we're given no reason to doubt that little Marla is a true pre-school genius whose first exhibition was featured in the New York Times. But in the second half of the documentary, after the media dubs Marla a "pint-sized Pollock" and her painting prices go through the roof, the wheels start to fall off. Is Marla the actual artist, or is she receiving all sorts of "coaching" from her devoted father? Director Amir Bar-Lev gets drawn into his own film as he struggles to believe the parents - clearly he wants to - but his natural scepticism gets in the way. This enthralling documentary, which raises insightful questions regarding the legitimacy of the modern art world, doles out both sides of a very fishy story and then forces you to decide for yourself where the truth actually lies. — Bianca Zander