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James Toback Planning Film About Identity That Will Blur The Line Between Fiction & Documentary

The Playlist By Simon Dang | The Playlist January 11, 2012 at 11:21AM

It's been over three years now since James Toback released "Tyson," his gripping portrait of infamous boxer Mike Tyson, and other than keeping himself occupied scripting for the notoriously delayed "Gotti: In The Shadow Of My Father," it looks like the writer-director has been plotting another effort behind the camera with what he describes as a "totally unusual, inventive" film that will blur the line between fiction and documentary.
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James Toback

It's been over three years now since James Toback released "Tyson," his gripping portrait of infamous boxer Mike Tyson, and other than keeping himself occupied scripting for the notoriously delayed "Gotti: In The Shadow Of My Father," it looks like the writer-director has been plotting another effort behind the camera with what he describes as a "totally unusual, inventive" film that will blur the line between fiction and documentary.

"It involves rethinking what the self is," Toback explained to Vulture. "If I say, 'I'm James Toback,' what does that mean? I could just as easily be walking over there and saying, 'I'm Harold Lerner.' I could go to a second country with a different identity. I have a friend who is a famous eye surgeon, and one day, he said, he was in a paranoid phase of his life, he said, 'How many identities do you have?' 'What do you mean? I have one identity.' He said he had six. 'What do you mean?' He had six passports, six birth certificates, six social security cards, six driver's licenses."

It's a fascinating notion Toback brings up. However, what begins as maybe a prologue to "The Bourne Identity" or any mistaken identity film is quickly dispensed with a much stranger, more philosophical explanation.

"It's going to say it's a 'James Toback Fiction Film,'" the writer-director adds. "Because the reason I say that is that it might otherwise be confused with a nonfiction film; it turns fiction on its head. So that's the official position...Let me put it this way: My life has been leading up to this moment. So that means I can die after this is over." Who knows where Toback is going with this, but plans are to shoot the film this summer in Cannes; could that be some sort of clue as to what the story may involve?

Toback also talked up the underrated, Playlist-favorite Ben Foster, who's set to lead the aforementioned 'Gotti' for Barry Levinson, adding that the actor "is going to be great, he's going to be terrific." We'll soon see.

This article is related to: James Toback


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