Paul Berczeller photo

This is a True Story

Made by Paul Berczeller

2003, 24 Mins.

About The Filmmaker

Paul Berczeller is a BAFTA nominated writer/director, originally from New York City. When he is not making films and commercials or supporting Arsenal, he works as an indentured servant to Nico (4), aka Batman and Allia (2), aka Batgirl.
BAFTA nomination 2003


In December 2001, the world's media reported that a young Japanese woman, Takako Konishi, had died whilst trying to find the money hidden in the snow at the end of the Coen Brothers' film 'Fargo'. The fact that she died outside the town of Fargo was correct. The rest was not a true story. Director Paul Berczeller took it upon himself to look into this tale that the media swallowed so easily, finding that the truth was a lot more tragic and a lot less melodramatic…


Did you make money on the film? Did you cover your costs or did it cost you money in the end? How much?

It’s a good thing I made it for love, because if it was for money…

What did you shoot and edit on?

We used a Nikon 35mm stills camera and a Sony PD-150. It was edited on Final Cut Pro.

How long did it take to make from conception to completion?

About 8 months.

How many people worked with you and what did they do?

Mark Read – Photographer
Valerio Bonelli – Editor
Mark Kirby – Music Supervisor
Jess Search -- Commissioner

How did you find your contributors?

By researching the story, obtaining official documents and following up leads. To my surprise at the time, everyone I contacted to appear in the film agreed to take part. I really lucked out – they were genetically predisposed to decency and honesty, like Marge and her husband in Fargo. But real.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt making the film?

Keep refining and refining the story you’re trying to tell…what is the essential truth you’re trying to get at?

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

Don’t worry so much…just enjoy it, because it’s not always such fun.

Did you have a moment where you nearly gave up? What was it?

Give up?!

Where did the idea for this film come from?

From a chance reading one day of the Daily Telegraph. It was pure serendipity.

What do you think this film did in terms of helping your career?

It got me started…

Where has the film been seen and how did it get there?

The film was commissioned by Jess Search for Channel 4 back in the Alt-TV days of yore.

Did you use the short as an experimental platform (either in technique or content) – in what ways?

Yes I’ve always liked playing with forms. I wanted to make a response to Chris Marker’s La Jetee…an amazing film everyone should see.

Did you use the film as a launch pad to a longer film on the same subject?

No…I don’t think more would have been better in this case.

What’s been the best thing about having made the film?

That people seem to have enjoyed it.

What are you doing now?

Trying to make the one I’ve always wanted to make.

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