2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST

LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST | Courtesy of Sundance Institute

LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST
Alexandre O Philippe dissects the 1973 horror classic through an extensive conversation with its director.

Festival Section:
Special Events

Sundance Program Description:

Throughout a body of work that includes DOC OF THE DEAD, 78/52, and MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN, Alexandre O Philippe has developed his own brand of “cinema essay,” exploring the art of filmmaking and its practitioners. His latest is an exuberant, lyrical endeavor that unpacks William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece, THE EXORCIST. Philippe and Friedkin embarked on an epic six-day conversation – modeled after the Hitchcock/Truffaut interview – that forms the film’s narrative spine, delving into Friedkin’s influences (from classical-music structure to Carl Dreyer’s ORDET), his theory of the “rosebud moment,” the intricacies of adapting William Blatty’s novel, production intrigues, and even actor Max von Sydow’s faith.

Philippe finds in Friedkin a philosophical Renaissance man compelled by the mysteries of fate and faith. Friedkin examines the swirl of creative decision making that defines film directing in a broader sense, and his ability to articulate that largely intuitive process is extraordinary. For his work to be illuminated by such a penetrating analysis is a gift to all cinephiles.

Some Background:

Director/Writer:

  • Alexandre O Philippe
    Past Sundance docs:

    MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN (2019)
    78/52 (2017)

    Philippe is the creative director of Exhibit A Pictures, whose films explore film and pop culture, including docs on STAR TREK, STAR WARS, zombies, and Paul the Psychic Octopus. This, his most recent doc, debuted at the Venice Film Festival last year.

Producer:

  • Kerry Deignan Roy
    Past Sundance docs:

    MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN
    78/52

    Roy is Philippe’s regular producer and founding partner of Exhibit A Pictures.

Co-Producers:

  • Annick Mahnert
    Past Sundance docs:

    MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN
    78/52

    Mahnert is the director of international programming at Fantastic Fest, as well as an acquisitions consultant, with a focus in genre films.

  • Cathy Trekloff

    Trekloff is a founder of Denver-based production company Milkhaus. She has credits in post-production for 78/52 and DOC OF THE DEAD, as well as Sundance alumni BEING EVEL.

  • Chad Herschberger
    Past Sundance docs:

    MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN
    78/52

    Herschberger is a partner at Denver-based post-production house Milkhaus, and cut several of Philippe’s previous films.

  • Robert Muratore
    Past Sundance docs:

    MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN
    78/52

    Muratore is also the project’s director of photography. He previously shot Sundance doc alum BEING EVEL (2015).

Executive Producers:

  • Karyn Kusama

    Kusama is a filmmaker who previously wrote and directed the Sundance Grand Jury Prize- and Directing Award-winning GIRLFIGHT and a segment of omnibus XX.

  • Matt Manfredi & Phil Hay

    Manfredi and Hay are screenwriting partners, and have written multiple films directed by fellow executive producer Karyn Kusama. Hay has served as a creative advisor for the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab and FilmTwo Initiative.

  • Joey Porcelli & Randy Pharo
    Past Sundance docs:

    78/52

    Porcelli is an author and a member of the board of directors of the Denver Film Society. Pharo, her husband, is an attorney.

Editor:

  • David Lawrence

    This is Lawrence’s first Sundance credit.

Why You Should Watch:
Tailor-made for cinephiles, Philippe’s latest film is a captivating masterclass on an iconic film, presented by an Oscar-winning New Hollywood legend. Friedkin’s analysis, and the extensive clips from the film, will no doubt inspire viewers to rewatch THE EXORCIST with fresh eyes.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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