July 31, 2012, 7:00 P.M.
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
Outside the Box [Office] and Indomina Releasing invite you and a guest to a special preview screening of
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
Opens at Landmark's Nuart Theatre in West Los Angeles on Friday, August 3rd
About The Imposter
A gripping thriller straight out of real life, THE IMPOSTER is an original film experience that walks the razor’s edge between true-crime documentary and stylish noir mystery.
The twisting, turning tale begins with an unsettling disappearance – that of Nicholas Barclay, a 13 year-old Texas boy who vanishes without a trace. Three and a half years later, staggering news arrives: the boy has been found, thousands of miles from home in Spain, saying he survived a mind-boggling ordeal of kidnap and torture by shadowy captors. His family is ecstatic to have him back no matter how strange the circumstances – but things become far stranger once he returns to Texas.
Though the family accepts him, suspicion surrounds the person who claims to be Nicholas. How could the Barclay’s blonde, blue-eyed son have returned with darker skin and eyes? How could his personality and even accent have changed so profoundly? Why does the family not seem to notice the glaring differences? And if this person who has arrived in Texas isn’t the Barclay’s missing child . . . who on earth is he? And what really happened to Nicholas?
Director Bart Layton fuses confessional interviews and suspenseful storytelling into a film that asks the audience to play detective – as they ferret out the blurred evidence between a family who seems desperate to believe, a private investigator obsessed with resolution and a lonely thief whose only loot is human identities. Yet, just when it seems the puzzle of Nicholas Barclay has come together, another corkscrew twist turns everything upside down – and draws the audience deeper into THE IMPOSTER’s lacerating questions about truth, perception and why people are so tempted to pretend, to fib and, most of all, to fool ourselves.
Provided courtesy of Indomina Releasing. Rated R. Running time: 95 minutes.
To learn more about the film and to view the trailer, click here.
As a documentary filmmaker you could wait a lifetime to happen upon a story such as this. From the moment we heard about it, it sounded like something that couldn’t possibly have taken place in the real world – a French-Algerian man successfully steals the identity of a missing Texan boy and begins a new life within the boy’s family, posing as their child? If it were a work of fiction it would seem far-fetched. This sparked the urgent need to find out more – about the man capable of perpetrating such a crime and the family capable of becoming victims to it.
When I met the imposter, Frédéric Bourdin, he was extremely compelling. At once charming and off-putting, childlike and jaded – someone who seemed to have lived his life in a fantasy he had created for himself – one that suited him better than the troubled life he was born into. He is a master story-teller and it was easy to get sucked in; wanting to believe him despite knowing he was a convicted and pathological liar, wanting to hear him tell his story in his own words – a story he seemed to have been writing and re-writing for some time.
He told me about his past, the childhood he never had and his search for an identity and I found myself wondering if what he had done was somehow understandable – “they were a family without a kid, I was a kid without a family”. But having met him, heard his thick accent, seen his olive skin, dark hair and dark brown eyes, it seemed impossible that at the age of 23 he could have convinced authorities that he was an American 16-year-old and much less, convinced a family that he was their blonde-haired, blue-eyed all-American boy.
I wondered if perhaps the imposter was not the story, but was rather a conduit to a more interesting story about deception and self-deception and the ability of people to construct their own truths. When we began to meet some of the other characters involved in the story they also seemed to inhabit a world closer to fiction than reality: A leathery Texan Private investigator named Charlie Parker who claimed to be the first person to spot the discrepancies between the child who had disappeared and the one who had returned three and a half years later: “the ears didn’t match”. An FBI agent who had been charged with investigating the kidnapping of the boy who had been miraculously found alive thousands of miles away in Europe – only to discover that she was conducting an investigation into a work of fiction.
And then there was the family; fragmented, bereaved and still unsettled by their encounter with the man who had claimed to be their long lost loved one, who had lived as their child for nearly five months. But other details emerged – the missing boy had been troublesome, he had run away before. When he turned up on the other side of the world it seemed incredible but possible. When the sister was finally united with him, he bore the same marks as her lost brother, he knew details about her family that no-one else could possibly have known, he seemed different, yes, and bore a strange accent, “but look what he had been through – he was absolutely gonna be different”.
Every person we talked to seemed to have their very own version of the truth and all of them as believable yet implausible as each other. So the big question as a filmmaker was how would I tell a story where the truth was so elusive? My solution was to try to take the audience on a journey as twisting and turning as the one we experienced in making the film – embarking on every character’s journey with them, embracing their subjective realities; a journey upon which we lurched from one version of the truth to another, from sympathy to condemnation and back again.
It was hard to hear the interviewees describe these events without feeling like they were recounting the plot to a movie and that seemed to unlock something of how I might go about telling this story. There would be no single truth – no way of “getting it right”. My thought was to make a virtue of the conflicting accounts, and to visualize them in a style as strong as the story itself. So, the film contains a good deal of very stylized sequences in which what happened in the past is visualized - the objective of which is not to create a definitive picture of the truth or to try to trick the audience into believing something is real that is not but rather to attempt to envisage the story the interviewees want to tell us. From the very first scene, I wanted to make clear in the visualization that this is not what “must” have happened but an attempt to illustrate each person’s version of what happened. To try to recreate that movie that plays in your head when someone tells you an extraordinary story.
The challenge as a director was how to make a documentary - which in many ways is about the elusiveness of truth – truthfully. My hope is that the film takes the viewer on not just one journey but on a series of concurrent journeys with a number of compelling characters each with their own version of the truth and their own complex reasons for constructing those truths. I hope this allows the audience to form and reform their own opinions as to what actually happened - in much the same way has we have done in the process of making the film.
-- Bart Layton
About The Stranger's Kiss
The Stranger's Kiss is a contemporary Los Angeles Film Noir about a young man who meets a beautiful woman outside a bar. He wrangles the nerve to speak to her and to his surprise, he doesn't blow it. They hit it off, and she invites him back to her place. He thinks he's in for a night of romance, but the woman has another motive for inviting him over.
The film takes a look at the game of love and questions if you can ever really know the person you are with. It examines the odd balance between intimacy and anonymity in the world of romance. It's not about what your partner is sharing with you, it's about what they are not sharing with you. It's about what they choose to keep hidden.
Written & Directed by SCA Alumnus Aaron Lomeli. Running time: 20 minutes.
Learn more about the film at thestrangerskiss.com
About Outside the Box [Office]
Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain.
To view the calendar of screenings, click here.
Check-In & Reservations
This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.
All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.
The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $8.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in outdoor Lot M or V, or Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.
Name: Alessandro Ago