LunettArena > 21:30

La cosa/F for Fake

Introduced by

Nanni Moretti and Frédéric Bonnaud

In collaboration with Fondazione Gramsci Emilia-Romagna


Friday 23/07/2021


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Nanni Moretti gives us a lesson in journalism with these 60 minutes of film, shot during Communist party meetings after Occhetto proposed to change the name or the party and before agreements and disagreements consolidated into motions. He went to Genoa, Turin, Bologna, Milan, Rome, Tuscany and Sicily and filmed discussions that emphasised neither the distance of the camera nor the status of the speakers. His first lesson is to capture a unique moment: to surprise it as it emerges, uncertain and turbulent. The second is to focus on the body in the experiment and not the doctors who are operating; in other words, not the secretary, the leaders, the opinion makers, but the ordinary men and women whom the press rarely addresses, but only vaguely alludes to as a mass of resistance – people who only count collectively as a consensus in the service of the balance of power at the top. Normally, only those who stand out for their position in the hierarchy are singled out: Occhetto, or Musso, or Fassino, or the new secretary in Turin. In politics, opinion is measured by power. Moretti, on the other hand, concerns himself with the rest: the lives, faces and hands of those who constitute the base, a party without names.

The third lesson is a way of translating observation into montage. The film records deliberations that are anything but emotional. Not someone who says “it was all fine” before, because things have been going badly “for years”; at least now there is discussion. That these people weren’t “consulted” is not seen as a scandal – the base never is, and we reluctantly recall the ‘historic compromise’, the first crack in a sense of consolidated identity. […] This fragment of a thinking ‘base’ was documented only by Nanni Moretti, soberly and with a light touch – and for that we should be grateful.

Rossana Rossanda, “il manifesto”,
6 March 1990

Cast and Credits

Scen., M.: Nanni Moretti. F.: Alessandro Pesci, Giuseppe Baresi, Roberto Cimatti, Riccardo Gambacciani, Gherardo Gossi, Angelo Strano. Prod.: Angelo Barbagallo, Nanni Moretti per Sacher Film. DCP. Col.


Film Notes

The first of Orson Welles’s two essay films to be completed and released during his lifetime (the lesser-known 1979 Filming ‘Othello’ was the second), this breezy, low-budget montage – put together from discarded documentary footage by François Reichenbach as well as new material filmed by Welles – forms a kind of dialectic with Welles’s never-completed It’s All True. As Welles himself implied, an equally accurate title for this playful cat-and-mouse game might have been It’s All Lies.

The main subjects here are art forger Elmyr de Hory, Clifford Irving, Howard Hughes, Pablo Picasso, and Welles himself; and the name of the game is the practice and meaning of deception. Some commentators have speculated that this film was Welles’s indirect reply to Pauline Kael’s subsequently disproven contention that he didn’t write a word of the Citizen Kane script; his sly commentary here – seconded by some of the trickiest editing anywhere – implies that authorship is a pretty dubious notion anyway, a function of the even more dubious art market. For a filmmaker who studiously avoided repeating himself and sought always to remain a few steps ahead of his audience’s expectations, thereby rejecting any obvious ways of commodifying his status as an auteur, Welles arguably found a way in F for Fake to contextualize large portions of his career while undermining many cherished beliefs about authorship and the means by which “experts,” “God’s own gift to the fakers,” validate such notions.

The key to Welles’s fakery here, as it is throughout his work, is his audience’s imagination and the active collaboration it performs – most often unknowingly – with his own designs, the kind of unconscious or semiconscious complicity that magicians and actors both rely on. As Finnegans Wake was for Joyce, F for Fake was for Welles a playful repository of public history intertwined with private in-jokes as well as duplicitous meanings, an elaborate blend of sense and nonsense that carries us along regardless of what’s actually being said.

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Cast and Credits

Sog.: Orson Welles. Scen.: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar. F.: François Reichenbach. M.: Marie-Sophie Dubus, Dominique Engerer, Orson Welles. Mus.: Michel Legrand. Int.: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar, Clifford Irving, Elmyr de Hory, Joseph Cotten, François Reichenbach, Richard Wilson, Paul Stewart, Alexander Welles, Gary Graver, Peter Bogdanovich. Prod.: Dominique Antoine,  Richard Drewett, François Reichenbach per Les Films de l’Astrophore, SACI, Janus Film und Fernsehen. DCP. Col