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Interviews with du Plantier family 'the hardest I've ever done' - John Dower

The director of a new documentary on the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier says speaking to her...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.08 25 Jun 2021


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Interviews with du Plantier fa...

Interviews with du Plantier family 'the hardest I've ever done' - John Dower

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.08 25 Jun 2021


Share this article


The director of a new documentary on the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier says speaking to her family were the hardest interviews he has ever had to do.

A new three-part Netflix series, Sophie: A Murder in West Cork, examines the murder of the French documentary producer in 1996.

With access both to the victim's family and the man who quickly became the main suspect, the series unravels the story from its beginnings - and offers a unique window into the ongoing battle to find justice.

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Director John Dower told Moncrieff that speaking to Sophie's family was one of the hardest parts.

"I've been making documentaries for over 20 years, and they were easily the hardest interviews I've ever had to do.

"Particularly with Sophie's parents... they're in their 90s, they're very frail."

And John says her mother, Marguerite, was not able to talk as much.

"She's normally the main speaker in the couple, but she wasn't having a great day that day and most of the interview fell to Georges.

"I don't think I've still quite gotten over it - he kept breaking down and heaving sobs.

"And I said 'We can just stop, this is just a film' and he said 'No I want to do it, I have to it'.

"He kept going and it was pretty humbling, I have to say".

The Netflix offering comes just weeks after a Sky Crime five-part series by Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan entitled Murder at the Cottage.

John says this is inevitable.

"I don't want to turn this story into a battle of two productions.

"This happens more and more in documentaries with the advent of streamers like Netflix and Amazon.

"We are seeing a sort of goldrush of documentaries - a fallout of that is that you will get more films being made on the same subject.

"If a story's good enough, there's room for one or two films I think.

"They're different... we did have the blessing of the family to make this series.

"We didn't make it for them, they had no editorial control - and pretty much once we started filming it they left us alone, apart from when we interviewed them.

"If you want to start comparing the two films, I guess the differences are that we have much more involvement from the family.

"Jim Sheridan's project has much more involvement from Ian Bailey.

"Jim Sheridan is effectively presenting his series... it's very much a Jim Sheridan project front and centre from the very beginning of the first episode.

"Thankfully no one gets to see me in front of the camera - but I think there's room for both".

'You can't avoid Ian Bailey'

On Ian Bailey, John says he is hard to avoid.

"You can't avoid Ian in this story, it's only because Ian constantly inserts himself into the story.

"It's not like he's saying 'Please leave me alone, I just want to live my life'.

"He's constantly - whether it's in his poetry - he constantly brings himself into this story.

"We did an interview with him, and then he decided he wouldn't talk to us because he signed an exclusive contract with the other production.

"Which I thought was a little strange in itself, because Ian always says he wants to get this story out there - but he sort of put himself in a slightly invidious position, tied his hands really.

"Even if we hadn't had that original interview with Ian, you could still construct his story just from the numerous, numerous interviews he's done in the past".

Interviews with du Plantier family 'the hardest I've ever done' - John Dower

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'Sophie: A Murder in West Cork' will stream on Netflix from Wednesday, June 30th

Main image: A still of Sophie Toscan du Plantier from the Netflix documentary 'Sophie: A Murder in West Cork'. Picture by: Netflix

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Documentary Ian Bailey John Dower Moncrieff Murder At The Cottage Netflix Sophie: A Murder In West Cork Sophie Toscan Du Plantier West Cork

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