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How do you construct a documentary that holds an unsolved mystery at its center? That was the question put before documentarian Bart Layton and his producers, Dimitri Doganis and Poppy Dixon, as they sought out to tell the incredible story of international identity thief Frédéric Bourdin, who conned an American family into believing he was their long lost son, Nicholas Barclay. "Normally, as a documentarian, what you're searching for is objective truth," explains Doganis, "This was something completely different."
The sleek and creepy trailer for this Sundance-selected documentary laid out the basics of this strange story. In the featurette viewable below—courtesy of THR—the filmmakers discuss their research, and how its mind-bending results informed their approach to The Imposter.
13-year-old Nicholas Barclay was last seen in Texas in 1994. As a casual runaway, his family was not immediately worried when he didn't return home from playing with friends. But their concern and grief grew as the days stretched on to months and years with no sign of Nicholas. Three years later in Spain, Bourdin, who was on the run from Interpol, sought a fresh start in America by masquerading as Nicholas, winning over the blue-eyed boy's family in spite of warning signs like brown eyes and a thick French accent. When asked where he'd been, the eponymous imposter wove a tale so sick that it drew the notice of national news and the FBI.
Fascinated by Bourdin's brazenness and the peculiar antics that followed, Layton and his team tracked down Bourdin and the Barclays, asking each to tell their side of the story. But with two dueling narratives being spun, Layton found it no easier to uncover the objective truth he had set out searching for.
The Imposter opens July 13th.