Film the Writer with No Hands is definitely controversial. So controversial in fact that it has eschewed -or been eschewed from -traditional distribution methods, opting for a run of non-cinema venues, culminating in an iTunes and Amazon release.
The controversy surrounds both the subject matter, and the film itself.
The film follows Matthew Alford’s investigation into the mysterious 1997 disappearance of Hollywood scriptwriter Gary Devore. His body was eventually found at the bottom of an aqueduct -minus both his hands. Gary was writing a film about the CIA when he went missing and nobody ever found the script.
Cue conspiracy theory.
Then shortly after the HotDocs screening, ‘due to the suspicious death of one of the films most important interviewees -the film was withdrawn from all distributions routes.
‘In 2017 the film was re-edited by the film’s director William Westaway and given away to non-cinema venues around the world to host a global pre-release screening. It’s final release date is June 27, 2017 (iTunes and Amazon).’
Prior to the global release, The Writer with No Hands: Final Cut is showing at 57 non-cinema venues across 14 countries around the world from New York to Bogota, Columbia. The screenings began on June 13 and will run until June 27 and have included art centres, bars, cafes, vape lounges -even a Jailhouse in New Zealand.
But the subject matter is only half the story. It seems there has been a bit of friction between director Will and writer Matt.
In 2014, in an interview with the Standing Stones blog, Matthew said of his relationship with the director: “Will has all the depth of a flat-screen television. His agenda was to make me out to be a kooky conspiracy theorist, who had abandoned his family for the sake of an obsession. None of this was true, as he well knows.”
And a review of the HotDocs 2014 screening by Phil Brown on Dork Shelf questioned the ethics of the film, saying there were times it can be ‘an uncomfortable watch’.
Finishing with: ‘The Writer with No Hands is certainly an intriguing movie. As a documentary, it’s a dubious creation that borders on unethical despite being self-aware. So, it’s an interesting documentary to be sure, just one that leaves a sour taste in the mouth that feels somewhat inappropriate.’
Decide for yourself, the films on iTunes and Amazon from June 27, and here are the pre-release screening venues:
(Ok, conspiracy theorists, is there anything in the fact that the two websites quoted seem to have stopped updating?)