Documentaries are a film genre that allows the filmmakers to express their particular feeling on a subject. These films could bring awareness to our diet as a nation or the realization that there are certain elements of our culture that need to be re-evaluated. The beauty about these films is that the good ones elicit an unexpected emotion from the viewer, and this year’s documentary feature in the Austin Film Festival’s competition, “The Missing Piece: The Truth about the Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa,” is no exception.
This film explores the truth behind Vincenzo Peruggia, the man who stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911 and had it in his possession for two-and-a-half years. Filmmaker Joe Medeiros’ fascination with the myth and the man began several years ago.
“I was stunned by the obscurity of the theft of the most famous painting in the world,” Joe says.
Though bogged down by the conflicting reports he uncovered, it wasn’t long before Joe’s interest in the story became more than the search for the truth.
“The reason I decided to do a documentary was because I realized that Vincenzo Peruggia’s daughter, Celestina, was still living,” Joe says.
The mission of the documentary soon became finding the truth for Celestina, who grew up without her father and without the knowledge and history behind this event in her father’s life.
“All of a sudden we had this project that was impassioned by this little old woman who wanted the truth, and it became so much more meaningful,” says Justine Medeiros, producer of the project.
The Medeiros’ do come to the truth from 1911, and without spoiling the film, it’s one that we all can connect to on more than one level. We are all presented with times in our lives that we face an obstacle. It’s what we do to overcome these obstacles that add color to our lives.
Joe knew there was more than one reason that led to the theft of the Mona Lisa, but he didn’t have proof.
“Finding out the context of these elements (motives), and putting the pieces together to form this human being — the motive is very human and identifiable, even 100 years later,” he says.
The best documentaries are the ones that elicit an emotional realization as well as a growth from the viewer, no matter how minuscule it might be. “The Missing Piece: The Truth about the Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa” is a ride through history and a truth that is worth knowing.
4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, Austin Convention Center Screen 2
7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22, Rollins Theater