It’s very rare that a movie like “Weekend of a Champion” finally surfaces, but when it does, you just kind of have to stand back and marvel. The 1972 racing documentary from director Frank Simon, working closely with Roman Polanski, follows British Formula 1 sensation Jackie Stewart around Monaco as the preps for and eventually wins the 1971 Grand Prix.
The film had never been seen in the U.S. and only screened a handful of times in Europe upon its initial release, but now movie and racing fans everywhere have an opportunity to see “Weekend of a Champion” with a brand new interview with Polanski and Stewart as they look back on the film, partially thanks to the efforts of director and producer Brett Ratner, who is a personal friend of Polanski’s.
We sat down Ratner to talk about his role in bringing the film to Netflix and what it meant to share “Weekend of a Champion” after all these years.
Ratner explained that he first encountered “Weekend of a Champion” when Polanski screened it for him. “I said, ’Who has seen this film.’ He said it was only in one theater in Paris because back then in the 70s, there really wasn’t a market for documentaries,” Ratner said. “Now there’s HBO, Showtime, Netflix and opportunities for people to see documentaries, as well theatrically…. It had never been seen in the United States. I said, ’Wow, let me see if I can help you get distribution or distribute it or present it in the United States.”
Appropriately, Ratner was thrilled to see the movie and jumped at the opportunity to bring the movie to a wider audience. “I flipped out over it. I loved the documentary ’Senna’ from when I’d seen that,” Ratner said. “I’m a big fan of Formula 1, and I just thought it captured a moment in history with the biggest film director at the time with the most famous Formula 1 race car driver, spending a weekend together in Monaco with Jackie Stewart actually winning the race. It was unbelievable.”