Ever since the Oscar-nominated Unknown White Male (review here) premiere at last year's Sundance Film Festival, there have been rumblings that the story it tells about Doug Bruce's memory loss and subsequent new life is too strange to be real. Additionally, everyone in the movie is good-looking and smart, which is a little suspicious in a film that's supposed to be about real life. Some at Sundance went so far as to suggest that the film was an elaborate joke, much like Peter Jackson's cheeky Forgotten Silver, which fooled all of New Zealand before it was revealed to be a mockumentary. In a recent GQ article, Michel Gondry - who semi-seriously wonders if the inspiration for UWM came from his own Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - admits that he doesn't believe Bruce, but has never been willing to confront him about his doubts.

Needless to say, Bruce, the filmmaker, and everyone else behind the film deny there's anything fictional about it. Interestingly, the distributing team - Court TV and Wellspring - has refused to use the simmering controversy as a tool to promote the film. Given the marketing potential in a "Is it or isn't it?" campaign, it would be a move of incredible stupidity not to use that angle to promote a film that you know is faked and, presumably, plan to eventually come clean about. That, combined with the fact that not a single shred of concrete evidence has surfaced to disprove the reality of the film, seems to suggest that UWM is telling the truth. After all, as JT Leroy and James Frey can tell us, it's almost impossible to keep a secret this big in the modern world - you've got to believe that something would have leaked out by now.

That said, if it's a hoax, it's a fantastic one, and I'm just one of the many suckers.
categories Oscars, Cinematical