Firsthand tries to solve a mystery in “Looking for Mike”

In 2002, filmmaker Dylan Reibling’s friend, Michael De Bourcier, died under mysterious circumstances. Reibling has a copy of the death certificate from the province of Ontario and has been to his unmarked grave in Vaughan. Trouble is, De Bourcier wasn’t who he said he was, something Reibling uncovered over a decade ago and is the topic of this week’s Firsthand documentary.

“Looking for Mike,” airing Thursday at 9 p.m., begins at the beginning, with Reibling describing when and where he first met De Bourcier. They worked at a tech startup and bonded over their small-town upbringing. They had drinks, hung out and stayed in touch even after they’d been laid off. When De Bourcier asked Reibling to witness a new passport application so the former could jet to Berlin, the latter didn’t hesitate. De Bourcier never made the flight; instead he was discovered dead in his apartment.

The circumstances surrounding the death were strange and information found in his wallet were suspect. Shocked by what the authorities had uncovered, Reibling began his own investigation and discovered the man he thought was Michael De Bourcier wasn’t at all. “Looking for Mike” is engaging as heck. Reibling’s narration, coupled by barely-lit reconstructions and spare music score, is like a visual season of Serial, complete with play-by-play delivered by the filmmaker and highlighted by interviews with their old co-workers, private investigators and  police. And, like Serial, you can’t help but be sucked in. Why did De Bourcier create a persona and manufacture forged documents? Why did he lie about where he grew up, yet know intimate details about that area of the province?

Who was Michael De Bourcier? Tune in to “Looking for Mike” to discover what Reibling uncovered. You won’t be disappointed.

Firsthand airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.