James Marsh, Man on Wire

Don’t wobble when you reach the top. This new doc might well strike a chord for the audience, especially those desperately eager to establish ‘why’ and ‘how’ do you go about walking the wire across the 1970’s construction site of the Twin Towers. This was one of the most defining stunts every accomplished by a French climber.

Synopsis: August 7, 1974. A young French man named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire suspended between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. He danced on this wire for an hour with no safety net before he was arrested for what has become to be known as the “artistic crime of the century”.

“Man on Wire” is the perfect example of matching doc director to doc subject. French tightrope walker and juggler Philippe Petit became world-famous when he walked between the two World Trade Center towers, then under construction, on August 7, 1974 — a completely illegal if fantastic act that involved complex preparation and shook up New York City’s police department. (He had to cross back and forth several times to avoid the cops.) Petit had already achieved artistic notoriety for his feats at famous sites like Notre Dame in Paris, but to traverse the air space between what were then the world’s two tallest buildings? It’s not only his unbeatable skill, though, that makes Petit an ideal subject for a doc: He is a ball of fire, a fascinating egomaniac who engages you completely with his energy and confidence. Petit has written several books, including To Reach the Clouds, which recounts the feat in downtown Manhattan.

The full interview with British director James Marsh.

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