Forbidden Lie$ is the film equivalent of a thinking-person's beach book . . . it's smart, thoroughly entertaining and once you're hooked, almost impossible to put down. The film tells the story of author Norma Khouri who's first book, Forbidden Love, about the supposed honor killing of a childhood friend in Jordan, was a runaway success that sold over 250,000 copies worldwide. But after an Australian journalist asserts that the book is a well crafted hoax, the story goes off the rails and we're sent down the rabbithole, chasing the elusive truth about Norma Khouri.
It's a twisting wild ride, involving fake names, FBI allegations of million dollar fraud, mob connections, and Norma Khouri's constant, but serpentine insistence that the story she has told is true. When I saw the film at a festival last year, the theater was completely abuzz with hisses and whispers debating Norma's credibility. We'll do a quick, informal poll after the screening to see what the SPACE audience thinks . . . is Norma Khouri a "Con" or an "Artist"?
Director Anna Broinowski has made a film that stylistically mirrors Norma's twisting story and keeps the audience guessing at the truth. “The marriage between con-artist and filmmaker is a match made in heaven: both use a million tiny deceits to manipulate the way we think and feel; both are in the business of making illusions real.”
When Broinowski read Malcolm Knox’s Sydney Morning Herald article exposing Norma Khouri as a hoax in July 2004, she knew she’d found the subject for her next documentary. “I wanted to know what kind of woman could be so brilliant that while on the run from the FBI she could reinvent herself as a Jordanian virgin with a Fatwah on her head, write a best-seller, and convince the best publishing and media minds in the world that she was telling the truth.”