THE IMPOSTER, A Riveting Psychological Journey, from Director Bart Layton

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THE IMPOSTER, a riveting psychological journey, delves into the 1994 disappearance of Texas teenager Nicholas Barclay and the astronomical odds of his safe return.

Directed by Bart Layton and produced by Dimitri Doganis, THE IMPOSTER, bring to the screen a mesmerizing true account of a child gone missing and the astonishing events that followed.

On a cold rainy night a child huddles in a phone booth, frightened, no ID, no memory. He is taken to a children’s facility where an investigation ensues. The story he explains is filled with horrific details of torture, sex trafficking enslavement, graphic brutality, vivid and shocking cruelty and unspeakable crimes that stun every individual who hears his harrowing tale.

THE IMPOSTER introduces the audience to a masterful con artist in Frederic Bordain, who is given ample screen time and opportunity to describe, in detail, his plan, motive, maneuvering, and his rock solid belief in his own ability to persuade, impersonate and con both the vulnerable and those trained to recognize con artists.

By the film’s end the audience is left to determine who conned whom? Was it Frederic Bordain, who proudly proclaims, “I washed their brain” as he described his step by step process of becoming Nicholas Barclay.  Or was it the family who, to this day, may be hiding a darker more sinister secret? THE IMPOSTER takes the audience into uncharted territory as this crime of impersonating an abducted child was the first ever and to this day has not been duplicated with success.

Having the opportunity to speak with THE IMPOSTER’s Director Bart Layton and Producer Dimitri Dognais, I noticed they both seemed as genuinely stunned and shocked as they hope the viewer becomes after watching the film. The following is an excerpt of my interview:

With Director Bart Layton

Janet Walker:  Clearly this is a compelling story, in the sea of compelling stories, why did you choose this one?                                                                                                                                        Bart Layton (Director): In the sea of compelling stories there are only a few stories out there which are unusual as this one. Of course, there are a lot of true stories but I think there is something about this one which, I think, if someone would have told you it was the plot to a book or play you probably would have thought it was far-fetched but because it is true, we were immediately compelled to try and understand more about it.

Janet Walker: How did you come across the material?                                                                      Bart Layton: We originally came across the story written about him Frederic Bourdin in a Spanish magazine he was already, before this episode happened, known as a chameleon. He was known and rather infamous for having lived this life pretending to be a damaged child with, what seems to be the sole purposes of getting access to orphanages, children centers, shelters all this kind of stuff, and I was fascinated by that enough to want to go and do more research and in the course of doing additional research I found a couple of articles which described this incident in which he had successfully stolen the identity of this kid who had been missing. 

Janet Walker: During your interviews with the principals, the family and the imposter, did you receive any information that you hadn’t had before you went into it or was it all shocking and new?                                                                                                                                                            Bart Layton: There’s a great deal of difference between reading about something reported, there was a very good article in The New Yorker and in a British newspaper called The Guardian, but your right, it’s very shocking and surprising when you hear the story first hand.  

I think you get an emotional understanding of it which you don’t get when you read about it. I think when you read about it in the articles you think it is incredibly hard to relate to a family that mistook a Frenchman with brown eyes and brown hair and relatively dark olive skin for the blonde blue-eyed all American son but when you sit with them [The Barclay’s] their story is incredibly believable and plausible and compelling and that’s probably the most surprising bit of it.

Janet Walker: Why did you choose the particular style of shooting that you did? From the beginning the audience knows the imposters identity; cat is out of the bag; the audience knows the imposter identity and what he did.

Bart Layton: It’s a good question and something we debated. The alternative is that you tell the family’s story and you don’t reveal the deception until it comes out and then you have to go all the way through the film right until the moment of the arrest before you introduce the imposter.  

You have to tell this entire story of the family’s journey, all of these things, and then you get to the end and he gets arrested and that’s the first time that you can kind of introduce him as a character because you if you introduce him any earlier, well, the only logical moment of unveiling is when he was physically unveiled by the FBI, by Charlie Parker and all the rest.

And at that point you’re left with this huge question of how this could have possibly happened? Where did he get the information? Then, at that point you would have go right back to the beginning.

With Producer Dimitri Dognais     

Janet Walker:  Did you walk away from those interviews with reactions or did you explore those reactions and they didn’t make it to air?

Dimitri Doganis (Producer):  I think during the process of the different interviews from research crews, early meetings and the filming the thing that was the most striking was that everyone on the production team would constantly be having this debate on who they believed and what they thought really happened and how did it happened. And that debate would lurch from side to side depending on whom one had spoken to most recently or what new piece of information had come in.

So the process was constantly being surprised, often not by what was said but by how plausible it was because so many of the events seem completely unbelievable on paper but in context and in conversation  you kind of understand how that might have happened and how it might have happen that way.  

And so the surprise wasn’t necessary the events, the sequence of events was very clear from the beginning. But what was significant, of those events, was constantly shifting and changing. The fact that he did impersonate Nicolas, that he did so successfully, that he was accepted by the family, he did come successfully to America, he was given a passport and then several months later was arrested and all that’s a matter of record and all quite easily to establish.

The one thing that’s interesting and complex and constantly surprising is why? Why did he do it, why did they accept him? How did all of these things come to pass, what did it mean? It wasn’t so much being surprised by the events, those were obvious from the get go; it was being surprised by what they meant and that’s was the challenge of the film how do you, [as a filmmaker] get into that area; not what happened but why, what does it mean for the characters. 

Janet Walker: What do you think of the lack of forensic e and scientific evidence? It seems a bit shocking.

Dimitri Doganis: You have to remember this is a story of its time. The events took place in 1997 when DNA is available but not widely available, and certainly not widely available in rural Spain. And it is still very expensive. And it is still pre 9-11 America where there is less of a level anxiety about security and identity and also it’s worth remembering that if someone passes away a family member is brought in to identify them and their word serves as identification. Here they had a blood relative, immediate family, giving, avowing that this is . . . this is their brother.

THE IMPOSTER is produced by A&E Films, Film 4 and Channel 4 along with A RAW production in association with Red Box Films and Passion Pictures and is distributed by Indomina Media Inc.

THE IMPOSTER is spine chilling, with twists and turns, stunning revelations, unresolved conclusions, preying on emotions and circumstance and using our own evidentiary methods to perpetuate a brutal outrageously appalling con.  Worth seeing!

An official selection of the 2012 Sundance Film FestivalTHE IMPOSTER continues to win over crowds everywhere.

In a summer of fantasy, the reality of THE IMPOSTER is shockingly worth seeing!

 

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