Chancers: The Great Gangster Film Fraud full movie review - A good story, but a lazy film
The adage says, to make a small fortune, start with a large one. Bashir al-Issa came from a rich family and started out in property development: his first business deals were worth tens of millions of pounds.
After he went bankrupt, he tried making a smaller number of millions by claiming tax credits and VAT refunds from the British government as a film producer, although in fact he was producing nothing. When the authorities got wind of his exploits, he tried covering his tracks by actually making some movies, albeit extremely low budget efforts. It didn't work and he was convicted of fraud. 'Chancers: The Great Gangster Film Fraud' tells this story, which is entertaining but the documentary makes some odd choices. Bashir was Iraqi, his chief co-plotter was a Northern Irish actress. But the film presents the tale as if it was a story of London gangsters. Now, the film that Bashir actually made was about London gangsters, and some of the people who actually made the movie had connections to this world. But they had nothing to do with the criminality here, which was entirely a white collar crime executed by people whose backgrounds were anything but Cockney. Secondly, while the story is both amusing and shocking in its own way, the sums involved were small compared with the fortune that Bashir had already lost in his first career. The story of how someone with no track record gets to attempt to undertake multi-million pound development projects is arguably more interesting than the story of how, having failed, he then attempt to scam the Inland Revenue. The story of how low budget films get made is interesting: but that's only linked to the criminality by happenstance. Ultimately, there's interesting material here, but this is a lazy documentary.