An Honest Liar

An Honest Liar

March 28, 2016

by

Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom

James 'The Amazing' Randi dedicates his life to exposing frauds with the wit and style he brought to his magic tricks.

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About the Documentary

For the last half-century, James “The Amazing” Randi has entertained millions with his dazzling feats of magic, escape, and trickery. Along the way he discovered that faith healers, fortune-tellers, and psychics were using his beloved magician’s tricks to swindle money from the credulous. Fed up with the fraud, he dedicated his life to exposing con artists with a wit and over-the-top showmanship all his own. An Honest Liar is part detective story, part biography, and a bit of a magic act itself.

An acolyte of Harry Houdini, Randi became a famed magician-turned-debunker of psychics and mediums in his own right with a series of unparalleled investigations and elaborate hoaxes. These grand schemes fooled scientists, the media, and a gullible public, but always in service of demonstrating the importance of skepticism and the dangers of magical thinking. Randi was a frequent guest on TV variety and talk shows, most notably The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, uncloaking high profile scams, like the “spoonbending” of illusionist Uri Geller. Eventually Randi’s efforts won him the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Award.

When dealing with a master deceiver, however, the truth can be elusive. A sudden and shocking revelation threatens to bring down Randi’s own house of cards, and the magician who spent his life exposing phonies may be the victim of a devastating deceit himself.

An Honest Liar is told through interviews with Randi, vintage footage of his TV appearances, and interviews with illusionists, performers, and skeptics alike, including Adam Savage, Penn & Teller, Bill Nye, Geller, Alice Cooper, and more.

The Filmmakers

Justin Weinstein

Justin Weinstein is a Brooklyn-based former scientist whose work includes documentary feature films and broadcast journalism. He is an executive producer of Bronx Obama, a documentary directed by Ryan Murdoch now available on Showtime and iTunes. He co-wrote and edited Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, which won the Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, premiered on Independent Lens, and was nominated for The Humanitas Prize. Prior to that, Weinstein produced numerous projects for ABC News, Peter Jennings Reporting, and PBS, including Hot Politics for FRONTLINE and the ABC News Primetime special Last Days on Earth.

Tyler Measom

Tyler Measom is the co-director/producer of Sons of Perdition, which tells the story of teenagers exiled from their polygamist Mormon community. The documentary premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was acquired by the Oprah Winfrey Network. He was an executive producer of the feature film Take (Tribeca Festival Premiere) starring Minnie Driver and Jeremy Renner. He has written, produced, and directed nearly one hundred commercials, short documentaries, and industrials for a wide range of national and international clients. He won an Emmy for the PBS documentary Beehive Spirits and produced the Showtime documentary Jesus Town. He is currently in production on the documentary New Sensation, about the birth, rise, and cultural effects of MTV. Tyler lives in Salt Lake City under the shade of a giant oak tree.

Full Credits

Awards

  • AFI Docs Festival

    Best Documentary, Audience Award

  • Newport Beach Film Festival

    Jury Award

  • Napa Valley Film Festival

    Jury Award

  • Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

    Spirit of Independents Award

  • Hot Docs International Documentary Festival

    Top 10 Audience Favorite

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Join the Discussion

Do you believe in any aspect of magic, the paranormal, or parapsychology? After watching An Honest Liar are you more skeptical or do you still believe?

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