Magazine article Variety

Docmakers: Imposters No More

Magazine article Variety

Docmakers: Imposters No More

Article excerpt

Success has bred success for U.K. documentaries, with a new wave of filmmakers inspired to explore the form by previous breakout British hits.

Bart Layton, who made his feature debut with The Imposter," winning twice at the British Independent Film Awards, says Kevin Macdonald's "Touching the Void," which won the BAFTA for British film in 2004, opened his eyes to the potential for theatrical docs.

"It was as compelling, as gripping, as escapist as any thriller," Layton recalls.

When he was developing "The Imposter," which recounts the scarcely believable story of how a 23-year-old French-Algerian conman persuaded a Texan family that he was their missing 16-year-old son, Layton was determined to appeal to an audience that wouldn't normally watch a documentary in the cinema.

"Films like 'Senna' and 'Man on Wire,' and hopefully now 'The Imposter,' have opened more doors for documentaries," he says.

The snowballing success of such British films finally forced BAFTA to introduce a dedicated documentary category last year. After only having three nominees last year, when "Senna" took the prize, BAFTA is set to allow five this year, in recognition of the creative strength of the category.

"The Imposter" and "Searching for Sugar Man," both co-produced by Blighty's doc powerhouse Passion Pictures, are among this year's leading contenders after making the Oscar shortlist. Macdonald's "Marley" biopic is a pedigree entry, while other high-profile Brit docs include Julian Temple's "London: The Modern Babylon" and Stevan Riley's "Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007. …

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