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Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein on Their Ricky Jay Documentary ‘Deceptive Practice’

Fandor interviews filmmakers Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein about their film, Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay, which centers on magician and actor Ricky Jay by telling the story of his idols and influences.

Says Bernstein, “What I found particularly fascinating about [Jay’s live] show and his performance in general [is] the way he really does bring characters and the history of his art to life in an incredibly entertaining and absorbing way. He makes you feel like you really should know this stuff about these individuals that are very obscure to most people. But when he pulls you into that world, it’s incredibly alluring and fascinating. It was that and then the New Yorker profile, as we talked about, which had a lot about his history in the art. Both for me and Alan, that was really our interest. Delving into that history, which was so unique but also very flavorful and entertaining. Also, I would say that focusing on this mentor story, in particular, and following Ricky’s specific lineage as basically the story of the film came very early on in the process and largely came from him in that it was clear that he was much more comfortable talking about that than himself, directly. Or that was a way for him to talk about himself that he was really interested in doing. He wanted to pay tribute to these guys. He loves them. He thinks they’re amazing. He’s very enthusiastic about them (as I hope you sense in the film). It was a really good way to focus on both the history but also his life in a way that I think was better than a straight‑on biographical approach. ‘He was born here and he did this, blah blah blah.’ That’s why we did that. Also, because he is such a great storyteller, we wanted it to be told largely through his stories.”

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