The fake Scorsese film you have not seen, or have you?

An undated photo of a poster created to support the idea that Martin Scorsese made a film called “Goncharov”. (Photo: Alex Korotchuk/NYTimes)
Tumblr cinephiles have a new favorite movie this week. It is decades old, so maybe you have already seen it. It is called “Goncharov” and stars Robert DeNiro in the titular role as a Russian hit man and former discothèque owner. It takes place in Naples, Italy. Cybill Shepherd plays his wife, Katya, and rounding out the cast are Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, and Harvey Keitel.اضافة اعلان

The 1973 film, billed as “Martin Scorsese presents,” has everything: murder, a love triangle, a striking original score, and a dramatic final scene that film buffs have been debating for years.

There is one other thing to know about “Goncharov.” It does not exist.

The story of Tumblr’s beloved fake film began with a shoe. Several years ago, a Tumblr user posted a photo of a pair of “knockoff boots” they ordered online that arrived with a strange tag. “The greatest mafia movie ever made,” read the top line. “Martin Scorsese presents GONCHAROV.” “Domenico Proccacci production,” it continued. “A film by Matteo JWHJ0715.” “About the Naples Mafia,” read the final line. (The user’s Tumblr is no longer active, and attempts to reach the user were unsuccessful.)

In August 2020, Aveline McEntire, a college student in Missouri, reblogged the image on her personal Tumblr after seeing it on a friend’s page.

McEntire added an additional image to her reblog: a screenshot of a comment from a third Tumblr user, reading, “this idiot hasn’t seen goncharov.” McEntire, 20, had not thought much about the post until recently, when it suddenly started gaining popularity, with tens of thousands of people beginning to reblog it earlier in November.

As of Monday evening, “Goncharov” was the No. 1 trending topic on the platform, with Scorsese taking the second spot. Pokémon was in third.

Even Tumblr has gotten in on the act. “Goncharov” was ahead of its time, “and it’s contribution to cinema is remarkable,” the platform tweeted Sunday from its official account. “Rarely does a film tell as many diverse-yet-interconnected stories. Hard to imagine so few ppl have seen it.”

On Tumblr, users have created an entire universe to support the idea that “Goncharov” is real. A poster for the film, riddled with bullet holes and crediting Matteo JWHJ0715 as the director of the “greatest mafia movie (n)ever made,” was created by Alex Korotchuk, a 20-year-old-artist in Prague, who said 50 people have placed orders to buy a print version of the poster. Alix Latta, a 25-year-old music teacher in Indiana, composed a theme song — a waltz inspired by the theme from “The Godfather”.

There are Tumblr posts full of lore about the film and vivid details about the plot, including stills and GIFs pulled from other films and TV shows being repurposed as scenes from “Goncharov”.

“It’s essentially a Russian gangster coming to Naples, and it’s a long story about his eventual downfall and betrayal by everyone in his life,” said Erika Paulson, 27. “To quote one of the posts that’s been going around, it’s him coming to Naples to try and escape his life of violence.”

Elena Asofsky, 23, initially fell for the mythmaking. “I start asking my roommates. I’m like, ‘Hey, have you heard about this ‘Goncharov’ thing? What is this? Can we get in on it?’ And my roommate’s like, ‘I know; it’s fake. It’s all not real.’” Since then, Asofsky, a substitute teacher and illustrator in Columbus, Ohio, has been making fan art inspired by the imaginary movie.

Paulson pointed out Tumblr users have a rich history of this very particular brand of creativity, recalling how users several years ago created a similarly real fandom for “Squiddles,” a fictional TV show within the universe of the web comic “Homestuck.” But for some Tumblr users, it can be frustrating to be on the outside of inside jokes when other users refuse to cave and admit the thing they are talking about is not real.

How the title “Goncharov” came to be on the boots’ tag in the first place continues to be a mystery. Michael Littrell, a musician from Minneapolis, has a theory. After seeing the boots floating around Tumblr for years, Littrell, who studied journalism in college, started investigating in October and eventually came across an Italian producer named Domenico Procacci (the same producer named by the boots). From there, he connected the dots to a 2008 film called “Gomorrah,” about Italian organized crime.

Scorsese was not the director, but according to Littrell, 24, and a years-old story from The Hollywood Reporter, “Gomorrah” had a presentation credit from the famed director when it arrived in the United States.

A poster Littrell found in his search reads “Martin Scorsese Presents” at the top and is stylized much the same as the boots’ label, with Scorsese’s name in red and the title of the film in capitalized black letters. The director of “Gomorrah” is Matteo Garrone — who shares a first name with Matteo JWHJ0715.

A tagline proclaims “Gomorrah” to be “BASED ON THE BEST SELLING EXPOSÉ BY ROBERTO SAVIANO ABOUT THE NAPLES MAFIA” — details that bear a striking similarity to the boots that started this whole saga.

“I really want Scorsese to see this and maybe make Goncharov,” reads a reply on Littrell’s Tumblr post documenting his findings.

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