Berlinale: Programme


Film file

Panorama

Based On A True Story

##

BASED ON A TRUE STORY

Using interviews and archive material, the film reconstructs a bank raid which may not have gone down in history, yet has made film history – due to Sidney Lumet’s psychological drama DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975), in which Al Pacino plays the desperate and luckless bank robber Sonny Wortzik. Lumet’s suspenseful thriller is based on a true story; his protagonist is modelled on a man whose real name is John Wojtowicz.
On a hot August afternoon in 1972, Wojtowicz rushes into a Brooklyn branch of the Chase Manhattan Bank and, weapon in hand, demands the payment of a sizeable sum – in vain. For with unexpected speed, the police arrive at the bank and block the entrance. Wojtowicz ends up taking eight people hostage. A quick robbery turns into a 14-hour war of nerves, a spectacle in which not only the police and passers-by become involved but also the media.
At his trial, John Wojtowicz explains that he needed the money to finance his lover’s sex change. After serving his prison term, he returns to Brooklyn and moves into a house only a few blocks from the site of his crime. Ever since, John Wojtowicz has led a life overshadowed by celluloid memories that are not his own. Of all those who, after the crime and for Lumet’s film, gave an account of what happened during the 14-hour drama, only Wojtowicz’ version was missing. In Walter Stokman’s film we finally get to hear it.

Netherlands 2004, 75 min

by

Walter Stokman

World Sales

SND FILMS