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Orson Welles Documentary in the Works at Netflix With ’20 Feet From Stardom’ Director

Variety logo Variety 5/15/2017 Dave McNary
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Netflix is developing a documentary on Orson Welles, directed by “20 Feet From Stardom” filmmaker Morgan Neville.

It’s the second Welles project that’s in the works at the streaming company. Monday’s announcement of the untitled documentary comes two months after the service acquired global rights to Welles’ “The Other Side of the Wind,” to finance the completion of the director’s final film. The two pics will be released simultaneously next year.

Neville won the 2014 Academy Award for best feature documentary for “20 Feet From Stardom,” which focused on backup singers. His Welles documentary is being produced by Tremolo Productions, and executive produced by Frank Marshall and Filip Jan Rymsza.

Neville’s documentary will focus on Welles’ relationship with Hollywood, particularly on “The Other Side of the Wind.”

“‘The Other Side of the Wind’ has long been a ghostly legend in cinema history, but the story behind it is equally fascinating,” Neville said. “I’m excited to be able to tell the incredible story behind this film and to explore what made Welles such an enduring figure.”

“The Other Side of the Wind” was shot by Welles beginning in 1970 from a screenplay he co-wrote with Oja Kodar. The movie stars Kodar, John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, Robert Random, Lilli Palmer, Edmond O’Brien, Cameron Mitchell, Mercedes McCambridge, Susan Strasberg, Norman Foster, Paul Stewart, and Dennis Hopper.

Welles shot the film within a film between 1970 and 1976, and then worked on it until his death in 1985, leaving behind a 45-minute work print that he had smuggled out of France. Huston starred as a temperamental film director battling with Hollywood executives to finish a movie — much like Welles did throughout his career. The character portrayed by Huston was modeled after Ernest Hemingway following a fight between the author and Welles in 1937 — four years before the release of “Citizen Kane” — in which a whiskey-drinking Hemingway threw a chair at Welles.

The film is a Royal Road Entertainment production and was originally produced by Welles and Les Films de L’Astrophore. Marshall, who served as a production manager on the original production and has led efforts to complete this film for more than 40 years, will oversee the completion of the movie with consultation from Bogdanovich. He will work closely with fellow producer Rymsza, who has also been involved in pursuing the film’s completion.

Producers on “The Other Side of the Wind” are Marshall and Rymsza. The executive producers are Bogdanovich, Jens Koethner Kaul, Beatrice Welles, Carla Rosen-Vacher, Olga Kagan, and Jon Anderson.

Royal Road had announced in 2014 that it had negotiated agreements with Welles’ collaborator, Kodar; his daughter and sole heir, Beatrice Welles; and Iranian-French production company L’Astrophore. Welles had financed the project through a combination of TV roles and investors, including Mehdi Bushehri, the brother-in-law of the shah of Iran and an investor in L’Astrophore. After clashing with Welles, Bushehri took control of more than 1,000 negative reels, which have been stored in a Paris warehouse.

Welles’ first film was the iconic “Citizen Kane,” released in 1941. His other major works included “Touch of Evil,” “The Magnificent Ambersons,” “The Lady From Shanghai,” and “Macbeth.”

Related video: 'Citizen Kane' trailer, 1941 (via Mental Floss):

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