Forbidden Lie$


  • Written and directed by Anna Broinowski

I have mixed feelings about documentaries that recreate scenes with actors, but Anna Broinowski’s doc about author/con-artist Norma Khouri justified them beautifully. None of the events recreated in the film actually happened, and Broinowski reminds us of that by showing us the freshly murdered girl, covered in stage blood, sit up and laugh with her “murderers” after a take.

Not only is it just a movie, but it’s a movie about lies. Khouri became famous when she wrote a memoir about the honor killing of her best friend in Jordan. The trouble is that she grew up in Chicago, her real name is Norma Bagain, and she left the US one step ahead of the law, wanted for defrauding an old lady. In other words, she’s one hell of a con artist.

Extremely entertaining, with jokes, old film clips, special effects, and rock and roll, Forbidden Lie$ ups the ante on just how entertaining a documentary can be and still ask difficult questions. Several times, even late in the picture, a new revelation would have me thinking “Maybe there is some truth behind what she said,” only to discover that no such truth exists.

This Australian feature was one of my favorite films at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival, and at that time it wasn’t slated for an American release. I’m delighted to discover that it’s getting one.