SXSW 2012 Film Festival yielded some interesting and intriguing films, both fictional and documentary, that have Texas ties. Killer Joe is set in Texas based on a play and had a theatrical release earlier this month in Austin and soon in San Antonio. Many scenes were chilling in that film that kept my eyes glued to the screen, but the surprise suspenseful film that took that up a notch is the impressive documentary, The Imposter. As I first viewed the documentary, I questioned the genre category as the incredible story was unfolding. It is hard to believe that it is factual, based on the story of 13 year old Nicholas Barclay who disappeared without a trace from San Antonio, Texas in 1994. I was hooked throughout the film.
The Imposter screened at the 2012 Sundance Film where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema – Documentary category prior to the March SXSW screening in Festival Favorites category. I wholeheartedly feel it is one of my fest favorites because of British filmmaker Bart Layton’s style of presenting the story combining documentary, stylized visualizations, interviews and a “who done it” feel that I just could not shake. Layton’s visual innovation has earned him a spot several times as a finalist for Best Documentary for The Royal Television Society and at the Grierson Awards. After viewing Layton’s cinematic documentary debut, The Imposter, I would like to view this filmmaker’s body of work for television he has done to date.
Although I have seen many crime thrillers where someone has gone missing, when viewing how this family reacts to the circumstances and acts throughout the film, it is just as mind boggling. This film of stolen identity by a 23-year-old Frenchman, Frédéric Bourdin, and the Texas family, is one that needs to be seen to be believed.
An adolescent disappears and three and a half years later he is reportedly found alive in Spain with a wild story. An adolescent is expected to have matured a bit over that period of time, but is still an adolescent. The Nicholas in Europe looks different and has a non-Texas accent. The family still takes the steps to have him brought back to Texas. Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D, a renowned child psychiatrist who examined the individual brought to see him at the Texas Children’s hospital provides an expert opinion of certainty that this could not have been an American child.
Despite this expert opinion, the family, including the older sister, Carey Gibson and Nicholas’ mother, Beverly Dollarhide, appear to not notice the glaring inconsistencies and agree to keep the individual claiming to be Nicholas Barclay as one of their own. When Texan Private Investigator Charlie Parker starts asking questions, this tale becomes even stranger. Who is deceiving who? Don’t miss it!
This film has a theatrical release on August 17th in Austin at the Regal Arbor 8, as well as in Dallas at the Angelika Film Center; Houston, at the Sundance Cinema and San Antonio at the Bijou Cinema Bistro.
By Liz Lopez