Screened as part of NZIFF 2020

Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist 2019

Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe Curated

Unpacking one of the landmark films of the 1970s, William Friedkin talks big on the secrets and success of The Exorcist in this stellar cinematic essay, framed around an epic six-day interview with the maverick director.

USA In English
105 minutes VOD



Kerry Deignan Roy


Robert Muratore


David Lawrence


Jon Hegel
Anthony Weeden


William Friedkin


Venice, London 2019; Sundance 2020

William Friedkin was a smoking hot wunderkind fresh off the success of The French Connection when he decided to adapt William Peter Blatty’s bestselling novel The Exorcist. No one could have predicted the shattering effect the film would have on audiences around the world.

Alexandre O. Philippe, an astute chronicler of genre film, goes one-on-one with cinema’s greatest raconteur in a fireside chat dissecting the film that changed the cinema landscape forever. A fascinating lapsed Catholic and a naturally gifted filmmaker, Friedkin is never short for words about his films and cinema in general, whether he’s referring to the emotional austerity of Carl Dreyer’s Ordet or the subliminal nod to Magritte’s painting The Empire of Light. Opinionated, arrogant, fearless, bullying and brilliant, the man affectionately known as ‘Wild Bill’ reveals behind-the-scenes anecdotes about a moment in cinema that will never be repeated. Throughout this zigzagging conversation, his manner ranges from thoughtful and playful to contradictory and prickly.

Endlessly absorbing for fans, this self-interrogation about the creation of “the scariest film of all time” will even entertain those who’ve never had the courage to watch it. — Ant Timpson

About the Filmmaker
Alexandre O. Philippe is a Swiss director with an interest in examining influential works by master filmmakers and dissecting seminal screen moments. He has deconstructed the shower scene in Psycho (78/52, 2017) and the mythologies of the Alien franchise (Memory: The Origins of Alien, 2019), among other film-focused documentaries.