“It’s All True,” a feature documentary about Orson Welles’ lost 1942 film of the same name, will receive its world premiere Oct. 15 at the New York Film Festival. Paramount will release the film, which includes significant material from the original movie, in major markets immediately thereafter.
Pic includes a reconstruction of the legendary “Four Men on a Raft” episode that Welles shot in northeastern Brazil, as well as surviving excerpts from the unfinished film’s other tales, “The Story of Samba,” about the Rio carnival, and “My Friend Bonito,” a Mexican bullfighting saga based on a short story by Robert Flaherty.
The saga of the ill-fated project’s production is recounted by the late Richard Wilson, Welles’ associate producer on the original “It’s All True” and co-producer/director/writer of the docu; his wife Elizabeth, a production assistant on the original and consulting director of the present film; Grande Othelo, the greatRio samba star who was prominently featured by Welles; and families of the original jangadeiros, whose 1,650-mile ocean journey is portrayed in “Four Men on a Raft.”
Par plans to open “It’s All True” in about eight markets in late October, including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Denver, and roll out wider early next year. Par also holds homevid rights.
Shot in 1941 — shortly after the opening of “Citizen Kane” and while Welles’ second feature, “The Magnificent Ambersons,” was still being edited –“It’s All True” has long been perceived as a jinxed project.
It ended Welles’ relationship with RKO, gave him a reputation in Hollywood for profligacy, and was reputedly tossed into the ocean by the studio many years later.
It became a Holy Grail for film buffs and Welles enthusiasts. Although some material had been located earlier, consulting producer Fred Chandler found 150, 000 feet of negative in an old RKO vault on the Paramount lot in the mid-1980s.
With Chandler producing, Richard Wilson made a 22-minute “work-in-progress” short, backed by the National Center for Film and Video Preservation and the American Film Institute, that was shown at numerous film festivals in 1986 .MDDNWilson was working on the feature docu version at the time of his death in 1991.
Docu was financed by the French company Les Films Balenciaga, which holds most international rights.
It was produced in association with the French Ministry of Culture, Canal Plus, the French National Center for Cinematography, La Foundation GAN pour le Cinema and R. Films.
Producers are Regine Konckier, Wilson, Bill Krohn, Myron Meisel and Jean-Luc Ormieres. Wilson, Meisel and Krohn directed and wrote, Ed Marx edited, and Gary Graver, Welles’ cameraman from 1970 on, was the cinematographer.