Mark Read – Fargo


Mark Read “This is a true story”
Single- channel video

A beautiful Japanese girl is found dead in a snowy field near Fargo, North Dakota. Internet rumours suggest that she had flown from Tokyo in search of the millions of dollars buried in the snow from a scene in the Coen Brothers film Fargo, apparently believing the films subtitle “this is a true story”.
First shown as feature documentary that was shot entirely as photographs this narrative recreates her journey, through eyewitness accounts to reveal a much darker and tragic truth.

Photographer’s website:
The original feature documentary can be viewed at:

“This is a true story”
Copyright/Director/Producer: Paul Barczeller
Executive Producer: Jacques Peretti
Camera: Mark Read
Editor: Valerio Bonelli

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 in 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

Something of a dignified murder mystery, Berczeller outlines from the off that we’re not going to see the sensational myth we probably read in the papers. As well as telling the bare facts of Takako’s story, he reconstructs it in the strange white calm of Fargo, interviewing those who came across her along the way. The result is eerie, presenting a place where a stranger can just disappear and become the blank slate onto which the world’s fantasies can be projected. We experience a growing realisation that film stories so dominate our lives that we’re more entirely likely to believe someone would swallow them whole and indeed die for them.

But Berczeller does far more than just debunk the myth. An anonymous girl becomes, if not heroic, a real person who lived a real life. Her sense of isolation in a strange place is echoed by the use of stills, creating a fragmented and detached experience of Takako’s last days. This is a very stylish documentary, employing a narrative that feels like fiction but tragically isn’t. We reflect upon the stories we all create and the locations that frame our experiences, with the sting in the tail that as beautiful an image as that is, the reality is a lot more mundane.

(Format booklet/ Internet articles)


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