ⓘ The Imposter (2012 film)

The Imposter (2012 film)

ⓘ The Imposter (2012 film)

The Imposter is a 2012 British-American documentary film about the 1997 case of the French confidence trickster Frederic Bourdin, who impersonated Nicholas Barclay, a Texas boy who disappeared at the age of 13 in 1994. The film was directed by Bart Layton. It includes interviews with Bourdin and members of Barclays family, as well as archive television news footage and reenacted dramatic sequences.


1. Summary

Bourdin, who turned out to have a long record of impersonating various children, real or imaginary, embellished his claim to be Nicholas Barclay by alleging that he had been kidnapped for purposes of sexual abuse by Mexican, European, and U.S. military personnel and transported from Texas to Spain. His impersonation fooled several officials in Spain and the U.S., and he was apparently accepted by many of Barclays family members, even though he was seven years older than Barclay, spoke with a French accent, and had brown eyes and dark hair rather than Barclays blue eyes and blonde hair. The impersonation was eventually discovered as a result of the suspicions of a private investigator, Charles Charlie Parker, and an FBI agent, Nancy Fisher. Bourdin subsequently made a full confession, and in the film he elaborates on the various stages in his impersonation.

Layton said of Bourdin: "He invites sympathy. He has this childlike quality about him, and he can be very charming. And at other times he can be quite repellent, because he can be remorseless and youre reminded about what he did. So as a filmmaker, I was asking: how can I find a way of getting the audience to experience a bit of that?"


2. Credits

  • Charlie Parker
  • Beverly Dollarhide
  • Bryan Gibson
  • Nancy Fisher
  • Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D
  • Codey Gibson
  • Frederic Bourdin
  • Carey Gibson
  • Philip French
Drama sequences
  • Alan Teichman as Charlie Parker
  • Anton Marti as Male Police Officer
  • Cathy Dresbach as Nancy Fisher
  • Adam OBrian as Frederic Bourdin
  • Ivan Villanueva as Social Worker
  • Ken Appledorn as U.S. Embassy Official
  • Anna Ruben as Carey Gibson
  • Amparo Fontanet as Female Police Officer
  • Maria Jesus Hoyos as Judge

3. Reception

The film has received almost universal critical acclaim and has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 95%. The film received the Grand Jurys Knight Documentary Competition at the 2012 Miami International Film Festival, and was nominated for the Grand Jurys World Cinema - Documentary prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. It won the Filmmakers Award at the 2012 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. The film has been in official selection for several international film festivals, including South by Southwest, Edinburgh International Film Festival, True/False Film Festival, New Zealand International Film Festivals, Sydney Film Festival, Revelation Perth International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, and San Sebastian International Film Festival.

It was nominated for six British Independent Film Awards, for Best Film, Best Director, Best Debut Director, Best Technical Achievement- Editing, Best Achievement in Production, and Best Documentary. It was also shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. It was nominated for two BAFTAs at the 66th British Academy Film Awards, Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer and Best Documentary, winning the first.

UK-based film magazine Total Film gave the film a five-star review denoting outstanding: "Creepier than Catfish and as cinematic as Man on Wire, this is an unnerving story immaculately told and a strong contender for doc of the year." Peter Bradshaw, film critic for The Guardian, awarded the film five stars, writing, "This film is as gripping as any white-knuckle thriller: it is one of the years best."

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