On June 13, 1994 Nicholas Barclay went missing from his parents. They lived at the same in San Anontio. He was 13.
Three years later, Barclay returned home. But it wasn't Barclay. The teen who claimed to be Nicholas Barclay was actually Frederic Bourdin of France, who was better known as "The Chameleon".
On Friday at the Angelika Theater in Dallas, the new docu-drama "The Imposter" opens. The film chronicles this bizarre, and sad, deception.
Director Bart Layton recently stopped by to talk about his new movie, which chronicles the bizarre and sad story of a grieving Texas family who lost their son, only to have him reappear three years later only to learn the son was an imposter.
The Big Mac Blog: Were you able to conduct the interviews for this film and separate yourself as a film maker/journalist?
Bart Layton: Yeah. I think it means that obviously you do have to be incredibly sensitive to the subject and the people. That is the heart of the film. But it’s not what the film is about. It’s about the nature of deception; that you have to be incredibly sensitive to that. That is the heart of the film. That is probably not what the film is about, right or wrong. Even though of course.
I think the film becomes about something other than that. It’s about the nature of deception and self deception.
The Big Mac Blog: How did you find this story and what was the driving force to make this film?
Bart Layton: The original, original starting point was finding the story in a Spanish magazine. He was already known in France as a chameleon. I found out his story, about how he went around Europe pretending to be a destitute child. I found a couple of detailed articles and the incident in Texas in which he successfully stole the identity of a missing kid.
If you read it as a work of fiction it would seem completely farfetched.
I wanted to answer two questions: What kind of human being would be capable of doing this? And what type of people would be capable of falling victim to it?
The Big Mac Blog: Did doing any of the research or interviews make you mad?
Bart Layton: You can’t detach yourself from it completely. I wanted to be able to create a journey for the audience as close as I did in making the film. You are never quite sure where one minute in an interview you are sure of thing from someone and then in another interview you see a totally different perspective. That was a very bewildering experience. I wanted to create that journey for the audience.
The Big Mac Blog: Rather than a straight documentary you include many dramatized scenes; did you use other documentaries, notably ‘Touching the Void’ about a disastrous mountain climbing expedition, as a model for this type of film?
Bart Layton: That’s a brilliant film and it was ground breaking in that sense. I’m a big fan of that film. But those scenes were more observational. What I wanted to do was to create the drama as a way to go inside the story telling. I wanted to heighten the reality. Here you aren’t trying to pretend the drama isn’t something that is really is. It is drama and I wanted to be very clear about that.
The Big Mac Blog: Every creative artist, or even journalist, often can go back on something they are proud of and wish they had done something different; do you feel that way about The Imposter?
Bart Layton: I am happy with it, yes. Of course you could endlessly do something different. There is no one point when it’s done, is it?
When I screened it America there was a lot of laughter during it and that surprised me. There is some absurdity to it. I thought perhaps it needed to be re-cut. But then I thought I should stick with it because if that is what people chose to find funny they should be allowed to have their own reactions.
The Big Mac Blog: Are you working on anything else right now?
Bart Layton: I am, but I can’t say a great deal about it. It’s another film that is a true story and if it wasn’t true you would never believe it. It’s in the early stages of pre-production.
The Big Mac Blog: You are in London right now; did you enjoy the Olympics?
Bart Layton: I didn’t actually go to any of the games but in London it was impossible not to be around it, or see it on TVs. It was an incredibly exciting atmosphere.
The Big Mac Blog: Thanks so much for joining me and I hope the film does well for you and best of luck.
Bart Layton: Thanks, mate. Cheers.
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