Orson Welles’s unseen masterpiece set for release

An unfinished “masterpiece” filmed by Orson Welles nearly four decades ago is finally to reach the screen.

The Other Side of the Wind portrays the last hours of an ageing film director. Welles is said to have told John Huston, who plays the lead role: “It’s about a bastard director … full of himself, who catches people and creates and destroys them. It’s about us, John.”

The unedited film has been hidden away in a vault until now amid doubts that it could ever be shown.

Rumours of its release have surfaced repeatedly since it was shot in 1972, but an ownership dispute has always scuppered any plans. However, a Los Angeles lawyer told the Observer last week that the film will finally be seen.

Kenneth Sidle, a lawyer involved in the dispute over rights to the film, said: “We are in negotiations for the picture, which would lead to the finishing and public exhibition. Hopefully within the next few weeks we will know.”

Sidle, of law firm Gipson Hoffman & Pancione, represents Jacqueline Boushehri, widow of a relative of the Shah of Iran and one of the film’s producers.

Also embroiled in the negotiations is Welles’s lover, Oja Kodar, a Croatian who starred in and co-wrote the film. Sidle confirmed that both are selling their interests in the film.

He added that would-be buyers have checked that he can complete the film: “They wouldn’t be putting up money if they weren’t confident.”

Huston’s actor son, Danny, describes the footage as “absolutely fascinating”. In 2005 he recalled that Welles had given extensive “editing notes” on the film to actor and director Peter Bogdanovich, who also appeared in the film.

Bogdanovich is understood to be involved in efforts finally to bring The Other Side of The Wind to the screen.

Françoise Widhoff, a producer who collaborated with Welles on his F for Fake, spent a month on set of the unedited film, which she described as a masterpiece — “the way it’s shot, the way it’s acted. It’s very modern and free.”

However, Widhoff has reservations about anyone editing the film; she says the raw footage should be seen.

Andrés Vicente Gómez, a Spanish filmmaker who worked with Welles on various productions, including the unedited film, agreed that its completion would be an “act of betrayal”.

Describing it as Welles’s “testament”, he said: “The main character is a mix of [Ernest] Hemingway, Huston and himself … It was a film very close to him. But his physical condition was delicate. He didn’t have the energy to cut it.” – guardian.co.uk

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