Published on March 21, 2014
21/03/2014 13:45The Imposter: Bart Layton: 'You find yourself sucked in by his twisted logic' - Telegraph Page 1 of 3http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/9786201/The-Impo…-Bart-Layton-You-find-yourself-sucked-in-by-his-twisted-logic.html The Imposter: Bart Layton: 'You find yourself sucked in by his twisted logic' Bart Layton, the director of a dumbfounding documentary The Imposter explains to Daisy Bowie-Sell why it's so easy to be duped by Frederic Bourdin, the French Algerian man known as The Chameleon. Bart Layton, director of the film The Imposter By Daisy Bowie-Sell 7:00AM GMT 08 Jan 2013 Bart Layton’s documentary The Imposter was far and away the most dumbfounding film of last year. It told the story of a French Algerian 23 year-old who duped Spanish police, children’s centres across Europe, the FBI, the US State Department and, crucially, a family, into thinking he was a missing 16- year-old boy from Texas. Frédéric Bourdin had brown hair, brown eyes and spoke with a French accent, Nicholas Barclay – the boy who he pretended to be – was blond, American and had blue eyes. After claiming he was Barclay, Bourdin was taken from Spain to America, interviewed by the FBI, given an American passport and lived with the Barclay family for almost five months before he was found out.
21/03/2014 13:45The Imposter: Bart Layton: 'You find yourself sucked in by his twisted logic' - Telegraph Page 2 of 3http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/9786201/The-Impo…-Bart-Layton-You-find-yourself-sucked-in-by-his-twisted-logic.html It’s one of the most incredible stories of recent years, almost too far-fetched to be true, and the film’s director Bart Layton deliberately plays on this. Events are recreated by actors who deliver lines which are also spoken by the interviewees: the line between fact and fiction is cleverly blurred. But don’t be fooled, despite the trickster Boudin being at the centre of the documentary, every word of the story is true. “If this was a work of fiction, it would be preposterous,” says Layton when I talk to him ahead of the DVD release. The Imposter is his first feature film and has been heralded by critics, including the Telegraph’s Robbie Collin, who said the documentary 'unfolds like a Hollywood thriller' and gave it five stars. Bourdin’s testimony is vital to the sense of unease that the film generates. He looks directly out at the audience, smiling benignly and he seems open, honest and straightforward. So much so that in the beginning there’s an element of sympathy with him when he says he wasn’t loved as a child, that he came from a broken home, that the reason he steals other’s identities is because he doesn’t feel he has his own. Layton says evoking this sympathy in the audience was deliberate: “It doesn’t take long before you find yourself sucked in by his twisted logic. I found myself agreeing that he was the victim of the story. When I realised that had happened, it unlocked an interesting solution as to how to make the film. It’s almost fairer to everyone who was taken in because on one level the audience [also] becomes a victim [of his deception]. “He is the quintessential unreliable narrator, and yet we checked out everything he said against Interpol reports and it was correct.” When it came to getting Bourdin on board, he was relatively easy to persuade: “Bourdin is unpredictable ... he isn’t a terribly trusting character and he was very circumspect about what I wanted to do with the story. But at the same time, he is a consummate attention seeker. He was attracted to telling his story in this way.” The family of Nicholas Barclay, were much harder to track down: “I don’t think they wanted to be found, they lived a quiet life in San Antonio they wanted to put this behind them. The producers spent a lot of time doggedly looking for them, and then explaining that we wanted them to tell their side of the story.” It was a slow process: one family member agreed and then another: “They realised the interviews I
21/03/2014 13:45The Imposter: Bart Layton: 'You find yourself sucked in by his twisted logic' - Telegraph Page 3 of 3http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/9786201/The-Impo…-Bart-Layton-You-find-yourself-sucked-in-by-his-twisted-logic.html was doing were very detailed, but they weren’t aggressive.” In the film, the interviews with the family were incredibly candid, which Layton says was difficult to achieve: “Each of the interviews were one whole day. We started at the beginning and we tried to get the interviewees to a place where the responses were coming from that part of their memory which is unencumbered by everything else that followed.” The big question is how on earth did Bourdin get away with it for so long? Layton says this is at the heart of the film: “It as much about self-deception as it is about deception. We create our own truth, which often suits us better than reality." He pauses, before adding "If you want something badly enough you are capable of convincing yourself that it exists in the face of all evidence to the contrary.” The Imposter is out on DVD now Follow Telegraph Film on Twitter How we moderate Our new look © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2014
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