EXCLUSIVE: The Matthew Miele-directed documentary Alan Pakula: Going For Truth is going out to distributors to give a posthumous appraisal of an understated filmmaker who directed some of the most seminal films of his era.
Pakula was killed in a freak accident in 1998, when a metal pipe was turned into a deadly projectile on the Long Island Expressway after a car in front him ran it over and sent it airborne. The object smashed through the windshield of Pakula’s black Volvo station wagon and struck him in the head, killing him instantly at age 70.
Pakula’s passing stunned Hollywood at the time. The film, which was first revealed by Deadline in 2017 and which played last fall at an AFI tribute to the director, celebrates the iconic works that Pakula left behind. That includes the films All The President’s Men, The Parallax View, Klute, Sophie’s Choice, Presumed Innocent, Consenting Adults and The Pelican Brief. Early in his career he produced To Kill A Mockingbird and Fear Strikes Out.
Given that list, it was remarkable the low profile Pakula held when compared to other New York-based cornerstone filmmakers, from Martin Scorsese, to Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet and a few others. This was a choice by Pakula. But the respect accorded him by the actors who worked on his film is evident in how many took part in the documentary.
The list includes Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, Jeff Bridges, Steven Soderbergh, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Kline, Candice Bergen, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Tom Brokaw, Alan Alda, Alec Baldwin, Brian Dennehy, Christopher Plummer, Jane Alexander and Dick Cavett, whose literate talk show interviews with Pakula provide a lot of first person context that otherwise would not have been possible. The director’s explanation behind his motivation for the paranoid thrillers All The President’s Men and The Parallax View, and the selling of jingoistic images of America that masks a perilous backdrop, is eerily reminiscent of the waning days of the Trump Presidency and the Capitol siege in January.
“Remarkably, we did not get a “no” from anyone we asked to take part in the film,” said Miele, whose credits include the docu Always At The Carlyle. “Though some were tough to get due to scheduling, we did get close to 100 interviews total. And yes, it is a “who’s who” of Hollywood, but that is purely a testament to Alan and the extraordinary people he worked with and attracted to his films. Regrettably many had passed away who would have been valuable voices, but we did manage to speak to enough cast, crew, family, and friends in order to gain a clear picture and understanding of what made Alan tick.
The film is produced by Miele & Michael Weismann, and the executive producers are Shane Salerno, James Francis Trezza, Clive Gershon, and Steve McCarthy. Distributors are beginning to view the film now. The Story Factory is handling the sale. Having seen it, I would not be surprised to see it snapped up quickly. Stay tuned.
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