George Santos, the disgraced former congressman trying to turn his notoriety into a cottage industry, is now involved in a documentary project about his colorful lies, life and times.
The film is directed by Jenner Furst, a successful documentary filmmaker whose projects include a Peabody Award-winning documentary about Kalief Browder, a young man from the Bronx whose suicide after a prolonged detention at Rikers Island became a symbol of the collapse of criminal justice in NY. .
Furst is also known for a documentary genre he refers to as true comedy, and it is those stories, including the Amazon docuseries “LuLaRich,” about a pyramid scheme, and “Fyre Fraud,” which behind the scenes of a high-level music festival that was not, which has earned it a peculiar distinction.
“I'm a hustler's whisperer,” Mr. Furst said with a laugh.
Of the two films, “Fyre Fraud,” which arrived on Hulu in 2019, was an especially big hit. One of two competing projects on the topic, it was the only one that interviewed the story's supposed villain, Billy McFarland, who had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and had agreed to lose $26 million.
But the project drew criticism after it was revealed that Furst had compensated McFarland for licensing materials used in the film.
Mr. Santos will also receive some financial compensation for his participation, in the form of a fee for archival materials. Furst said the deal was common in the industry, which has exploded in recent years after streaming giants like Hulu and Netflix began investing heavily in documentaries. He said the payment, the amount of which he declined to disclose, would cover photographs, videos and “a lot of personal things that people have never seen.”
Furst is aware that many find it distasteful that Santos is profiting from his notoriety.
But he rejects this view, explaining that his work helps in the long run to ensure that justice is done: “The only way for people to get their money back is to somehow create money, to put money in their hands.” said Mr. said Furst.
Filming of the documentary is already underway, which Furst said will include interviews with several people in Santos' inner circle.
The former congressman still faces 23 felony charges, including wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft. Prosecutors say he defrauded campaign donors and the federal government through a variety of criminal schemes.
Furst insisted that no topic is off the table, from the most minor accusation to the most serious charge.
But the filmmaker hopes the project brings some humanity to the story of Mr. Santos, whose sins, he said, pale in comparison to the corporate, government and social systems that shape our culture.
“I really focus more on the human side of the story,” Furst said, saying his goal would be to understand Santos' childhood, insecurities, heartbreaks and betrayals.
When asked if he believes Santos' misdeeds, both accused and admitted, should disqualify him from holding office, Furst called it “a dumb question.”
“There is an illusion that there are good people and bad people,” he said in an interview. “Ultimately, there is still truth. And I am committed to the truth. And somehow, as someone committed to truth in a post-truth era, I don't think I can remain so religiously attached to the existence of truth.”
In fact, Furst said, he's not worried about the possibility that Santos won't be honest with him. “He could sit and tell me lies all the time. Ultimately, based on my ability to confirm the truth around it, that… that becomes pure entertainment.”
This isn't the first time Santos has been able to cash in on his escapades: Earlier this month, he set up shop on the Cameo platform, which allows users to pay celebrities for personalized short video messages. In his first week, Santos earned more than $174,000, the company confirmed, the equivalent of a year of his earnings as a member of Congress.
Since then, Santos, who has increased his fees to $500 per video, has rarely let an opportunity go to waste, even introducing a limited Christmas edition of the “Santos-Claus” cameo series that he said would help “make Christmas great again.” “
Santos has pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces.
But in a court appearance last week, Santos' attorney, Joseph Murray, told a judge that he had been engaging in negotiations with prosecutors about ways to conclude the case without going to trial, which may or may not include settlement payments. restitution.
Mr. Santos is due in court on January 23.
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