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ORIGINAL SCHTICK

Australia, 1999 (MIFF 1999, Australian Showcase)

Director: Maciej Wszelaki

Meet Robert (Bob) Fischer... and then wish you never had. This rivetting expose of the art world and celebrity follows an American (con) artist on his forest fire tour of Melbourne. Bob, a colourfully misanthropic nobody manages to fool everyone within earshot—artists, gallery owners, art dealers and sponsors—and blaze spectacularly for his 15 minutes, scorching the poor suckers around him in the process. The film follows the frenzied, contradictory and ultimately self-generated cycle of hype as Bob surrounds himself with a host of constructed realities and fabrications. The unravelling disaster is expertly captured by director Maciej Wszelaki's omnipresent and frequently daring and intru­sive lens.

Fischer's relationship with the camera alters as he is probed by his personal assistant, Peter George. Bob originally views the camera as a promotional ally, then as a passive therapist but ultimately as a ruthless scru­tineer. A single scene perhaps best expresses the Bob Fischer philosophy: gesturing at a rack of meat hanging in the Queen Victoria markets he quips, "Bob meets the people!" Original Schtick recently won Best Documentary in the Sydney Film Festival's Dendy Awards and has been nominated for four AFI Awards.

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