Gay Talese's 'Voyeur,' Joan Didion Doc Set at Netflix

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Gay Talese, Joan Didion

The pair of original documentaries will premiere at the New York Film Festival.

Netflix is expanding its documentary roster.

The streaming giant has set two new docs, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold and Voyeur, based on Gay Talese's controversial story about a Colorado hotel owner who spied on guests for decades. Both will premiere later this year at the New York Film Festival. 

Directed by Griffin Dunne, Joan Didion will unearth a treasure trove of archival footage and feature the filmmaker talking at length to his “Aunt Joan” about the eras she covered and the eventful life she’s lived, including partying with Janis Joplin in a house full of L.A. rockers, hanging in a recording studio with Jim Morrison and cooking dinner for one of Charles Manson’s women for a magazine story. The doc — produced by Dunne, Mary Recine and Annabelle Dunne — will be available to stream on the platform beginning Oct. 27.

“How does one capture such a celebrated and prolific author while delivering something new for audiences to engage with?” said Netflix vp original documentaries Lisa Nishimura. “Griffin does a superb job of bringing us into intimate, one-on-one conversations with his ‘Aunt Joan,’ examining how her struggle shaped her work and how her work helped shape American culture.”

Added helmer Dunne: “It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to convey the life and work of my aunt, and literary icon, Joan Didion. This documentary is a true labor of love and to partner with Netflix, who will help bring this to a global audience, is more than I could have hoped for when I started on this over five years ago. And to world premiere at NYFF is just the icing on the cake.”

Voyeur, meanwhile, follows 84-year-old journalist Talese as he reports on one of the most controversial stories of his career: a portrait of Gerald Foos, a Colorado motel owner. For decades, Foos secretly watched his guests with the aid of specially designed ceiling vents, keeping detailed journals of his guests’ most private moments. Most of all, he sought out, spied on and documented one thing: strangers having sex. Directors Myles Kane and Josh Koury follow Talese’s insatiable curiosity, which leads him to turn his gaze to a man accustomed to being the watcher, exploring a tangle of ethical questions.

It's worth noting that the Voyeur documentary was being prepped at the same time Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment was developing a feature film on the same subject with James Bond director Sam Mendes — but when the story was later debunked as fiction, Amblin dropped the project from its slate.

“It's an incredible honor to be able to add the next chapter in this fascinating story. NYFF is the perfect place to premiere this film about legendary New York journalist Gay Talese. And we're very excited to release Voyeur globally with Netflix, to many new curious eyes.” said Kane and Koury, who made the doc with Impact Partners. The pic was produced by Brooklyn Underground Films in association with Chicago Media Project and Public Record.

Added Nishimura: "Directors Myles Kane and Josh Koury deftly catapult us into one of the most highly complex and wily relationships between writer and subject, where the unremitting pursuit of the ultimate scoop and the ever-shifting memory of a serial voyeur collide and create an entirely new truth. Kane and Koury have created an endlessly fascinating exploration of desire, control and the stories we tell ourselves.”

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