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It's All True: Four Men on a Raft

USA, 1986 (MIFF 1987)

Director: Orson Welles

In 1942, after completing principal photography on The Magnificent Ambersons and before beginning Journey Into Fear, Orson Welles began shooting three episodes for an anthology film to be titled It's All True. One episode 'Bonito' was shot in Mexico, and the other two in Brazil - 'Carnival' telling the history of the Samba against the background of the Rio Carnival and 'Four Men on a Raft', telling the true story of four fishermen who sailed their small raft over 1,500 miles from the northern coast south to Rio to bring the plight of the Northeast peasants to the attention of the Brazilian government. For a variety of reasons, Welles was never allowed to complete the proiect. The Brazilian footage had long been thought lost.

But in 1980 almost 140,000 feet of black and white negative (some 8 to 20 hours) was found in a nitrate vault at Paramount Pictures. This negative has been donated to the American Film Institute, and is housed as part of the AFI collection at the UCLA Film Television and Radio Archives. Preservation is a major issue: the negative is on nitrate stock and must be immediately transferred to safety stock. This film has been made to help raise the necessary finance - it tells the story of the loss and rediscovery of the Brazilian footage and includes 10 minutes of original images from the doomed proiect.

"Among all 'lost' films, It's All True always has held a place among the most legendary because of the unusual circumstances of its production... it was from this pro]ect that allegations of the director's lack of discipline, irresponsibility, unreliability and inability to finish a film all stemmed, and it was such a reputation he had trouble overcoming for the rest of his life."


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