Roman Polanski racing documentary revs up for new run 40 years on

Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:21pm EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Weekend of a Champion," a documentary about British Formula One driver Jackie Stewart, went unnoticed for about 40 years until the London film lab where it was stored was closing and asked its producer, Roman Polanski, what to do with it.

The Polish-French filmmaker, 80, had all but forgotten the 1971 behind-the-scenes film that detailed a weekend he spent with his close friend Stewart as the champion driver attempted to win his second Monaco Grand Prix.

"It was an accident, a pure accident," Polanski, the director of films such as "Rosemary's Baby" and Oscar-winning "The Pianist," said about rediscovering the documentary.

"I looked at the film and I liked it after 40-odd years and I decided I would give it a new life," Polanski told reporters in New York via Skype from Paris.

Polanski fled the United States in 1978, fearing he would spend years in jail for a sex crime conviction, and has never returned.

The documentary had a limited release in England and Germany in 1972 but had never been shown in the United States.

With Stewart's approval, Polanski re-edited the film which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and will be released in U.S. theaters on Friday.

He also added new footage showing the two friends reunited in the same hotel suite in Monaco, where Stewart had stayed decades earlier, joking about his sideburns and reminiscing about the sport and themselves.   Continued...

Former Formula One champion driver Jackie Stewart of Britain signs autographs as he arrives at the Albert Park circuit for the third practice and qualifying sessions of the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne March 17, 2012. REUTERS/Brandon Malone