These five documentaries raise more questions than they answer, proving that the truth is often stranger than fiction.
In the funny and enigmatic The Gullspång Miracle, a series of almost inexplicable events in the small Swedish town of Gullspång leads sisters Kari and May into a labyrinth of coincidence, faith and deception. Filled with moments of comical awkwardness and a series of inconceivable revelations, the film skilfully explores the intricacies of identity and the repercussions of unwavering beliefs.
As The Gullspång Miracle arrives on the DocHouse screen, we revisit five extraordinary, bizarre and downright unbelievable documentaries that blur the line between reality and fiction, often revealing a deeper truth about the human condition. Proving that life itself often provides the most astonishing plot twists, these five stranger-than-fiction tales have to be seen to be believed.
Three Identical Strangers / Tim Wardle / USA / 2018 / 96 mins
The astonishing story of three men who, aged 19, make the chance discovery that they are identical triplets, separated at birth and adopted by different parents.
When the trio is joyously reunited in 1980, they are catapulted to international fame, even appearing alongside Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan. However, this reunion also sets in motion a chain of events that unearths an extraordinary and disturbing secret that goes far beyond their own lives – a secret that has radical repercussions in what we know about human behaviour.
Three Identical Strangers is available to stream on Netflix
[A] spry, endlessly watchable documentary...
Simran Hans, The Observer
Misha and the Wolves / Sam Hobkinson / Belgium, UK / 2021 / 90 mins
Misha Defonseca’s holocaust survival story was almost unbelievable, but her memoir of evading the Nazis and befriending a pack of wolves en route to safety took the world by storm. Until, a fallout with her publisher led the latter to investigate the truth behind Misha’s claims, uncovering an audacious deception, and beyond that a much darker truth.
A rabbit warren of twists and turns, Misha and the Wolves questions the stories we choose to believe as much as the lies we tell, culminating in a killer of a rug-pull in the final act.
Watch our Q&A with director Sam Hobkinson here.
Misha and the Wolves is available to stream on Netflix.
The Imposter / Bart Layton / UK, USA / 2012 / 99 mins
The first feature film directed by Bart Layton, who went on to make American Animals, The Imposter presents a mystery wrapped inside an enigma, as they say, and then buried beneath several layers of deception.
It starts with a lost 13-year-old boy in Texas, and a 23-year-old Frenchman named Frédéric Bourdin who is accepted by the kid’s family as their long-lost son – despite being too old, having different coloured eyes, and speaking English with a French accent.
But, that is just the beginning of The Imposter‘s unexpected path, as Layton delves into the whys and hows of Bourdin’s deception and eventual discovery. Somewhere between a documentary hybrid and a psychological thriller, The Imposter set a benchmark for high stakes storytelling that leaves the audience guessing.
The Imposter is available to rent on Prime Video.
Tickled / David Farrier, Dylan Reeve / New Zealand / 2016 / 92 mins
Journalist David Farrier stumbles upon a mysterious tickling competition online. As he delves deeper he comes up against fierce resistance, but that doesn’t stop him getting to the bottom of a story. Farrier travels to Los Angeles and uncovers a vast empire, known for harassing and harming the lives of those who protest their involvement.
The more he investigates, the weirder it gets, revealing secret identities and criminal activity. With humour and determination, Farrier and co-director Dylan Reeve summon up every resource available to get to the bottom of this tickling wormhole.
Tickled is available to stream on Prime Video.
My Old School / Jono McLeod / UK, USA / 2022 / 115 mins
The astonishing true story of Scotland’s most notorious imposter. It’s 1993 and 16-year-old Brandon is the new kid in school. Soon he’s top of the class, acing exams and even taking the lead in the school musical. He’s the model pupil, until he’s unmasked…
Filmmaker Jono McLeod returns to his old school for a nostalgic look at the strange but true story of his former classmate, Brandon Lee. Using playful 90s-style animation, a pitch-perfect soundtrack, the memories of students and teachers, and the talents of Alan Cumming to bring the tale to life, My Old School offers more than one surprise along the way.