Ben Berman on the real-life twists of making 'The Amazing Jonathan Documentary'

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"Magic and docs are at odds, you know?"

Ben Berman found that out the hard way while making his new film ‘The Amazing Johnathan Documentary,’ which is now available on Hulu.

Well into the movie, there’s a scene where Berman realizes that he is no longer sure what is real and what is illusion. He sits down with his subject, comedian and magician Johnathan Szeles, determined to get at least a little bit closer to the truth of what has been going on. But Johnathan’s answers to his questions are anything but clear.

It’s not surprising, considering that mayhem and illusion always was part of The Amazing Johnathan’s act. He was a mainstay in Vegas for many years, until 2014, when he abruptly announced that he was retiring because he had been diagnosed with a serious heart condition and given one year to live.

Three years later, The Amazing Johnathan, amazingly, was not dead, and in fact launched a comeback tour. That’s when Berman started following him for a documentary. It wasn’t long before things started going off the rails.

Berman kept his camera rolling as Johnathan seemed to relish throwing obstacles in his path, whether daring him to try meth or announcing casually that another crew was showing up to shoot a rival documentary.

Berman tells us about his decision to stay the course and finish his film, which culminated at an emotional Sundance premiere.




Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker