Claude Gonzalez and Frans Vandenburg have been following the stranger-than-fiction life of filmmaker John Farrow for over 10 years.

Born in 1904 in Marrickville, Sydney, John Farrow’s curious story ranges from fleeing Australia at age 17 to penning a Tahitian French Dictionary, winning an Oscar for co-writing Around the World in 80 Days, to being highly religious and conservative and married to the glamorous Hollywood star Maureen O’Sullivan. Yet on the flip side he obscured his past from his family and fathered an illegitimate son.

As a director, producer, writer and actor he was prolific, making 50 films and working with people like John Wayne, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, and Lana Turner. He fathered seven children, including Mia Farrow.

Gonzalez and Vandenburg’s documentary – part mystery, biography and film noir – includes interviews with family members in the US and Australia, and with leading filmmakers and critics including Bruce Beresford, Phillip Noyce, Philippe Mora, David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz.

John Farrow – Hollywood’s Man in the Shadows, a Third Street Steps Production, will make its world premiere on July 26 at Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival in Bologna, Italy before an Australian festival debut.

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