Roxie Theater hosted the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival’s North American Premiere of “Girl You Know it’s True“, a biopic about Fab Morvan, and the rise and fall of his band Milli Vanilli. Fab made a personal appearance in San Francisco to answer audience questions and graciously pose with admirers.

A little history: Fab Morvan was born in 1966 in Paris, France. He met his future partner Rob Pilatus in a local Munich club, and formed the R&B band Milli Vanilli. They were good enough to be signed by a German producer and within months became MTV stars, selling more than 7 million copies of their debut album “Girl You Know It’s True”, making them one of the biggest musical acts of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Along the way, they were involved in a devastating lip-syncing scandal. The fallout resulted in a return of their Grammy for Best New Artist.

And so, the career lights soon went out. Milli Vanilli never recovered their level of fame, producing a Hail Mary album which flopped, selling around 2,000 copies. Props to their PR team who placed the duo in a Carefree Sugarless Gum commercial parodying the lip-syncing scandal, got their animated versions in a Super Mario Bros episode, and even attempted creating acting careers.

You can see why Fab and Rob were put together, a magic combination of flaming hot dance moves, looks, and charisma. It was believed the real studio singers wouldn’t sell t-shirts. Ouch. What Fab and Rob didn’t get was the promised opportunity to use their own voices. During the Q&A it was obvious Fab was still bitter about the treatment they received by the music label who threw them under the bus, claiming they had no knowledge of the lip-syncing.

Fab choked up while talking about his partner Rob, whom he loved like a brother. Sadly, personal demons got the best of him, dying too young from an overdose. There truly is a superstar curse of instant fame & fortune, followed by back stage loneliness, and endless need for love and approval from strangers.

All this came down in an era before social media and music downloads, when the studios held all the power. If Milli Vanilli were around now they probably would still be a working band. Ultimately, the film proves inspirational as we follow the resilient Fab Morvan’s new life, positive energy, and love of music, singing, and writing. He now lives in Amsterdam with his partner and four children, happier than he’s ever been. He hints there might be a book in the near future.

Oh, and it turns out Fab really can sing!

more info: Berlin and Beyond Film Festival

presented by: Goethe-Institut San Francisco