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Fund This Film: ‘An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi Story’ Promises Magic, Skepticism and a Long Con

By  · Published on February 2nd, 2013

When looking for crowd-funding campaigns to spotlight each week, I often think about our readers. Documentaries about geeky subject matter and/or the failure of a certain comic book movie. Maybe a narrative film that might appeal to genre fans. But this week I’m going with something that I personally really, really want to see and hope that you’ll agree is deserving of a few of your pre-purchase dollars, too. It’s a doc about a famous stage magician called The Amazing Randi. After making a name for himself as an illusionist, including a special gig on tour with Alice Cooper, he became more well known for debunking other people’s tricks. Not magicians but “spiritualist” and “psychic” con men who pass off illusion as miracle or paranormal activity. Obviously he became rather controversial.

The film is called An Honest Liar: The Amazing Randi Story and is co-directed by Justin Weinstein, who co-wrote Being Elmo, and Tyler Measom, who co-directed the exiled Mormon teens doc Sons of Perdition. On top of the talent involved, you can tell this is going to be a first-rate production by the budget, part of which is their Kickstarter goal of $148,000. They’ve already surpassed that amount, by the way, after only 16 days. I don’t know if the quick financing is the result of An Honest Liar being named Indiewire’s Project of the Week the other day, but the important thing is that the film has reached the first step to being finished and therefore reaching us as viewers. Maybe we can now give it another extra push.

Push towards what, you wonder? Weinstein and Measom still have 13 days to go with the campaign, and they’ve got an additional “stretch goal” amount to reach above that initial number. You don’t need to take your donation elsewhere just because this project is already well over that $148,000, as another hundred grand will go to post-production costs and higher production value with elements like animation and music. And there are plenty of incentives still available for fans of magic, science, Alice Cooper, The Simpsons and collecting producer credits. Of course, you can also just pay enough to get a copy of the film, which looks like it’s going to be very interesting and very entertaining. Take a look at the Kickstarter video for evidence of this:

Two things in particular have me especially intrigued and excited about this film. One is that Randi devised a hoax involving a fake spiritual leader in Australia in 1988 that predates the similar scheme of the new documentary Kumare by a couple decades. The other is that the Kickstarter page for An Honest Liar hints at the promise of the film itself being part of an act of deception. There’s a note about us being fooled by documentaries and another note about how there’s more to Randi than meets the eye. Hopefully these hints aren’t prematurely making me wonder if the subplot about Randi’s partner is all made up or keeping me from otherwise being surprised by some twist or reveal in the film by the time I see it. Ironically the thing that could ruin An Honest Liar for me is the thing that most attracted my interest. Regardless, it should be a fascinating doc.

Here’s a clip of The Amazing Randi with Alice Cooper. You can see a few more videos on the film’s official website.

Do you want to see this film? Enough to help fund it?

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.