One of the subjects of the film, David Friedman, is a birthday clown here in NYC and was profiled by Susan Orlean in the New Yorker a few years ago. The story didn’t touch on any of the family history, which didn’t come out until Andrew Jarecki, the director of the film, profiled David for a short film on clowns, at which point the project exploded in scope.
There’s been some criticism of the film for being misleading, and that view has some merit. The director states in this interview that two scenes near the end of the movie, one showing Jesse Friedman clowning around and one showing him crying were actually shot weeks apart, not within the same day as the film makes it seem. But so much of the film is about the difference between reality and perception anyway that the whole thing could be fiction or heavily biased and it wouldn’t matter too much (to me at least).
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