EXCLUSIVE: Movies periodically get fixated on auto racing, like the great documentary Senna and the upcoming Ron Howard-directed Rush. Now we’ll find out how a barely seen documentary shot by Roman Polanski can do, one shot back when he and his cameras were granted the kind of access to the track in Monaco that you just couldn’t buy today. And the way Polanski shot it, you can tell in just a few seconds that if the average person tried driving that course, you’d need to call your insurance agent by the first hairpin turn.
Rat Documentary Films, Brett Ratner‘s documentary film arm, has acquired the North American rights to Weekend Of A Champion, Polanski’s 1971 portrait of the legendary Formula 1 race car driving Champion Jackie Stewart on the weekend of his victory at the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. This is a film that was shot while Polanski was at his peak, and it has never been released in the United States. This becomes the first in a 12-picture deal that Rat Documentary Films has with Netflix; his objective is to produce or acquire cool feature documentaries. Here, Ratner and Polanski began talking about this deal and Polanski recalled with fondness the experience of shooting with Stewart. I’ve seen footage and it is pretty compelling stuff.
Said Ratner: “The film is an intimate look into the most exciting F1 race in the world seen from the point of view of one of the most evocative figures in the sport. Jackie provides Roman with a privileged insight into his strategy and first-hand approach of how he planned to win the Monte Carlo Grand Prix.”
Rather called Weekend Of A Champion two icons at the height of their careers, one behind the camera and the other behind the wheel, during the most dangerous era of Formula 1 history. Brett Ratner said, “This film is a masterpiece. Roman and Jackie both do what they set out to accomplish, Jackie wins the Monte Carlo Grand Prix and Roman makes a great film that stands the test of time,” Ratner said. “The two legends reunite 40 years later and watch the film in the very same hotel room in Monte Carlo for what turns out to be a poignant and beautiful reunion.”
Pic is a co-production between Rat Documentary Films and Polanski’s production company, R.P. Productions.
Polanski, just completed Venus In Fur, based on the David Ives play and his next directorial outing is D, a thriller based on the Dreyfus affair. Ratner is currently in pre-production on MGM and Paramount’s Hercules with Dwayne Johnson in the lead role. Ratner previously produced the docus Helmut By June, I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale for HBO, and the superb Emmy-nominated American Masters film Woody Allen, A Documentary.
Jeff Berg’s Resolution represented R.P. Productions in the sale of the picture.