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My Kid Could Paint That ***
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rossiter Drake*



Featuring Marla, Mark and Laura Olmstead, Anthony Brunelli, Elizabeth Cohen. Rated PG-13.

Feature Presentation: Is Marla Olmstead a prodigy or a fraud? The four-year-old’s paintings incited a minor frenzy in her native Binghamton, N.Y., before earning her international attention in the pages of The New York Times and later at the Sundance Film Festival, where Amir Bar-Lev’s captivating documentary debuted in January 2007. Yet while Marla may have inspired My Kid Could Paint That, she is hardly the film’s sole focus. What begins as the improbable tale of a child whose colorful canvases became pricey commodities soon becomes something very different – an unsettling portrait of a family whose quest for celebrity may have been rooted in a lie. At first, Bar-Lev presents his film as a contemplation of modern art and how its value is (somewhat arbitrarily) determined, but after a 60 Minutes report questions the authorship of Marla’s paintings, controversy ensues. Whether or not she’s a young Picasso is beside the point, really. Marla’s story is a sobering illustration of the way children can be exploited by adults who should know better – journalists, filmmakers and especially their own parents.

Bonus Materials: The commentaries by producer John Walter and Binghamton-based art dealer Anthony Brunelli are illuminating to a point, but Bar-Lev’s newly added epilogue – in which the director returns to upstate New York for a reunion with the Olmsteads that never materializes – provides a fittingly bittersweet end to his story without resolving the controversy surrounding Marla’s paintings.

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