Weekend of a Champion

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“You lose all relation to grief, pain and emotion.” — Jackie Stewart

Director: Frank Simon
Year: 2012
Country: France, UK
Running time: 93 mins
Censor Rating: PG
Genres: Retro

Producer: Roman Polanski
Photography: Bill Brayne, Pawel Edelman
Editors: Hervé de Luze, Shawn Tracey, Derek York
Sound: Maurice Askew

With: Jackie Stewart, Helen Stewart, Roman Polanski

Festivals: Cannes (Special Screenings) 2013

In May 1971, Roman Polanski went to Monaco with documentarian Frank Simon to shadow the world’s greatest Formula One racer, Jackie Stewart. The resulting film was praised by racing enthusiasts but considered too specialised for wide release. It disappeared from view and became an elusive grail for fans of Polanski and Stewart alike. When Polanski learned that the negative was going to be destroyed he decided to salvage it by heading up a restoration. This updated version, including some 15 minutes of modern-day footage, premiered this May at Cannes. With the wider rights yet to be settled, we’re delighted to have secured a single New Zealand screening. 

“The film is more revealing about Stewart’s technique than about either his personality or the inner workings of Monaco and the Formula One world – although, even when he’s talking technical, as he mostly does, Stewart’s engaging, no-nonsense good humour shines through. But the film, containing some ferociously intense racing footage – plus some precise driving tips from a world-class expert – will be a must-see for lovers of the sport. Non-initiates may not find it as involving as, say, Asif Kapadia’s more narratively propelled documentary Senna, but fans will follow it to the last lap…

Shooting on 16mm, Simon follows Stewart closely, taking us into the driving seat with him in several sequences – using on-board cameras to shoot over Stewart’s shoulder as he drives through heavy rain, or to give us what amounts to a masterclass as Stewart takes Polanski for a spin, explaining in detail how he shifts gears to negotiate the curves of the Monaco track.” — Jonathan Romney, Screendaily