Four year old Marla Olmstead from Binghamton, New York became the sensation of the art world for her abstract artwork, which have sold for thousands of dollars per piece. The showing of her work started off as a lark, but when the paintings sold without the buyers knowing who the artist was, the media began to run with the story. Through it all, Marla's parents, Mark Olmstead and Laura Olmstead, want to be grounded in what is best for their daughter while exposing her to whatever positive may come from the experience. But some negative and big name media also surfaces, some questioning whether Marla is the real artist behind the work, and some questioning exposing a four year old to such infamy. Regardless, the fact of this art selling brings up the legitimacy of abstract art being quantified as "quality", especially if a four year old can produce it but can't express the emotions or rationale behind its creation. Or is art truly in the eyes of the beholder? Regardless, money, in the ... Written by
All writers, all storytellers, are imposing their own narrative on something. I mean, all art in some ways is a lie. It looks like a picture of something, but it isn't that thing, it's a representation of that thing... Your documentary is itself going to be a lie. It's a construction of things, it's how you wish to represent the truth and how you've decided to tell a particular story. By that I don't mean that certain things don't happen. Of course they do. It's not that there is no such thing ...
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Great mystery movie + my guess of who's really painting
This is an exceptional movie that provides the evidence and leaves it to each viewer to decide the core mystery.
Does 4 year old Marla Olmstead paint her own modern art or is she being used by the adults around her? The documentary benefits from having begun before the 60 Minutes coverage, when the authenticity of Marla's work is unquestioned. The Olmsteads are a beautiful and loving family with two marvelous kids.
The filmmaker does a great job taking us inside their world as fame descends upon Marla. Then things really heat up when the 60 Minutes piece breaks- and the cameras are rolling on the parents as it airs.
The film does not decide for you but presents the evidence evenly, making it for me one of the most entertaining recent films.
My guess of who's really painting- The mother seems too sincere to be lying but dad appears a little shifty, and they say they work opposing shifts. The guy I suspect is really doctoring the paintings from childish to MOMA quality is the art gallery owner. There is a scene showing him doing hyper-realistic painting and he is clearly a great artist, but it also seems he may have a chip on his shoulder that he has not been recognized as a talent. They say in the movie that it's always the two men against the mother when it comes to making decisions about Marla's career, so I suspect these two are working together for the substantial financial rewards, while making it easy and technically true for Dad to say that he doesn't do the painting.
It will be interesting to see how Marla progresses artistically as she gets older and is no longer under her parent's or art dealer's control. She is certainly an engaging young girl and her story in fifteen years is potentially the subject of another film.
No matter who you choose to believe, this documentary is top notch.
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