On October 13, 2014, a young producer named Filip Jan Rymsza boarded a plane from New York to Paris, nervous and excited. After five years of struggle — begging, wheedling and cajoling, and working his way through a thicket of legal and financial complications — he was about to get his first physical glimpse of Orson Welles’ last film.
Rymsza, 37, the managing partner of Royal Road Entertainment, had been given permission to see 1,083 elements of the movie, including both the negative and the accompanying sound recordings, both part of a massive trove of material that altogether weighed 1.6 tons. This was the marrow of The Other Side of the Wind, the legendary, unfinished movie that Welles worked on from 1970 to 1976, before a blizzard of problems brought it crashing to the ground.
Arriving in the Parisian suburb of Bagnolet the following day, Rymsza (2004’s Sandcastles) was ushered through a back door into a bland warehouse. “It was surreal,” he says. “It was a totally nondescript warehouse with just a metal door and no signage, with just boxes and boxes of film on two pallets. But everything was there.” That included the entire negative of the film, all of it in pristine condition.