Barefoot Bandit's legend takes on reality in new film

More fiction than fact: That's how a filmmaker saw the legend of Colton Harris-Moore unfold - the Washington teen that stole airplanes and crash landed them on a two-year run from the law.

The first movie to chronicle the legend of the Barefoot Bandit hit theaters in Canada earlier this month.

Using a mix of reenactments, news footage, interviews with victims, family, friends and the police, and some graphic novel-style animation, Canadian filmmakers Andrew and Adam Gray have told Colton Harris-Moore's story.

Andrew Gray told KIRO Radio from his home two hours outside Toronto they were immediately drawn to the story as it was unfolding in 2008 and 2009, as Harris-Moore was stealing planes, burglarizing homes and confounding police across Washington.

"We were interested in the audacity of this kid, first of all," he said. "We were just intrigued by this mysterious character."

As Harris-Moore morphed into the Barefoot Bandit, Gray said they became even more intrigued with the legend and how it was created and fed off of itself.

"There was such a discrepancy between the myth and the true story," he said. "We wanted to use animation to reflect the dichotomy."

With dramatic music pulsing, the animated Harris-Moore steals planes, dashes from the police and escapes more daringly each time than before. Gray said the animation serves to tell the legend, while the interviews and news footage gets at the reality.

"People far away from the damage being created got this impression of Colton as some sort of superhero, some sort of rebel, as if he had a noble cause that he was fighting for," Gray said. "The animation reflects that portrayal of Colton."

"Fly Colt Fly: Legend of the Barefoot Bandit" debuted at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month. It opened in theaters in Canada on Friday.

Gray said they don't glorify the crimes or seek sympathy for Harris-Moore. They just want viewers to watch the movie with an open mind.

"The focus of the film is the legend itself," he said. "We would personally like audiences to make up their own mind about it."

Gray hopes to get the documentary into the Seattle International Film Festival so people in Washington can see his take on the Barefoot Bandit.


Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter
Chris loves the rush of covering breaking news and works hard to try to make sense of it all while telling stories about real people in extraordinary circumstances.
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