Englishman in New York

UK amnesia doc has a sniff of Oscar

Slap us if you think this question is a little too deep for a Thursday afternoon - but what if you had no recollection whatsoever of what made you the person you are today?

Englishman Doug Bruce walked out of his Manhattan apartment at 8pm and turned up on a New York subway heading to Coney Island 11 hours later - with no idea who he was, where he’d been or what he was doing.

In Unknown White Male, UK director Rupert Murray follows Doug as he attempts to repair his life. They retrace his steps, following Doug’s hazy journey to Coney Island, where he finally ended up at a psychiatric hospital. Terrified and disorientated, he was wrist-tagged as an unknown white male.

The authorities would not release Bruce until someone could identify him and although he remembered his signature, no one could read it. The only clue to finding how he had spent the previous 37 years of his life was a phone number he had in his possession but the person on the other end had never heard of him.

Rupert Murray admits that despite he and Bruce being old friends, he was initially concerned when approaching him about the subject.

“Eight months after the onset of amnesia I decided to write him a letter introducing myself and the idea of a film straight off the bat,” the helmer says. “I was an old friend and I wanted to make a film about what had happened to him. I had also heard that several of his 'new' friends were thinking of making a film about him, which made me feel quite protective. If anyone was going to tell his life story it should be someone from his past and that someone should be me.”

Murray’s flick is already gathering critical backslappings, the proudest surely being that the movie has been shortlisted for a Best Documentary Oscar nomination.

Click here for a full rundown on this fascinating story and how it came to be made...

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