My Kid Could Paint That

Director: Amir Bar-Lev

Institute History


Is four-year-old Marla Olmstead a child prodigy? This bashful little girl from a middle-class family in Binghamton, New York, rocketed from total obscurity to international renown and sold more than $300,000 worth of paintings. Marla was compared to Kandinsky, Pollock, even Picasso. Her work captured the imagination of the world. Art openings, limousines, and television appearances became part of the Olmstead family's normal routine. Then, just as quickly, the media turned the tables. 60 Minutes aired a segment casting doubt on the authenticity of Marla's work, and the Olmsteads' world changed in an instant.

Is Marla a genius of abstract expressionism? Or is she a petite pawn in an elaborate hoax, an innocent victim exploited by parents who sold her for the glow of the spotlight and the lure of the almighty dollar? Filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev wisely allows audience members to draw their own conclusions.

Deftly interweaving multiple narrative threads, My Kid Could Paint That scrutinizes society's obsession with child prodigies, explores the complex debate over what makes something art, questions the media's creation and subsequent destruction of heroes, and even examines the ethics of documentary storytelling. Bar-Lev's film, a portrait of the artist as a young girl, is itself a fascinating work of art.

— David Courier

Screening Details

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