British motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart is the star of a rediscovered film, Weekend of a Champion, co-directed by Roman Polanski 40 years ago, which is getting a U.S. release later this month (November 22).
Sir Jackie, 74, has been in New York to promote the picture which chronicles the amiable Scotsman as he’s trailed by Polanski over the course of a weekend during the Monaco Grand Prix in 1971. The two men have long been good friends. The picture provides an intimate look at Stewart who speaks with refreshing candor.
When Polanski heard that the negative of the 1972 film was about to be destroyed in the U.K. four years ago, he was determined to salvage it. In addition to the original picture—which never got a proper release in U.S.—there’s a new coda shot recently featuring Stewart and Polanski.
To some, Polanski remains controversial because of an incident going back to the 1970s in which he admitted to having underage sex with a teenage girl. He fled the U.S. just before sentencing. But Jackie Stewart doesn’t think this aspect of Polanski’s personal history will have any impact on the marketing of Weekend of a Champion. He says, “I think that’s a generation apart. The trouble that he had in America is the past. But for whatever reason it’s never been forgiven—and it should have been by now.”