Thirty years after "JFK," Oliver Stone has returned to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, this time in a documentary.
"JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass" is a kind of nonfiction addendum to one of Stone's most sensational and controversial films. The documentary, which premiered Monday at the Cannes Film Festival, is likely to prompt another round of debate on both the American tragedy and Stone's methods. But for the 74-year-old filmmaker, it was a way to answer his critics and go deeper into a history he's forever linked with.
"I was a relative novice when that film came out. I was naïve. I didn’t know that I’d get banged like this and it was hard," Stone said in an interview. "It became as if I was untrustworthy. In Hollywood, I became labeled a ‘conspiracy theorist’ which I think is a term from a 1952 CIA document — an attempt to discredit people. But people liked the movie. As a movie-movie, it worked."
"JFK" was nominated for eight Oscars, including best picture, and won two. It grossed more than $200 million. But it was also surrounded by questions about its factuality. "JFK Revisited" has doubts attached to it, too. Several streaming services passed on distributing the film in part over their fact checks. In Cannes, the film has set up international releases in several countries and is seeking a U.S. distributor.
The documentary, which has been edited down to around two hours after being twice that, makes no declarations about who killed Kennedy. It pulls in part from millions of government files that have been released in the years since "JFK." In 2017, President Donald Trump delayed the release of more documents, citing national security.
"JFK Revisited" delves deeply into inconsistencies in Kennedy's autopsy, the handling of key pieces of evidence and Lee Harvey Oswald's alleged ties to the CIA. And its deepest suspicions — not unlike in "JFK" — lie in the U.S. intelligence services.
"I feel the most important is why President Kennedy was killed," said Stone. "We answered with our evidence that he was going to withdraw from Vietnam. The détente with Cuba was in motion. The nuclear test ban treaty had been signed. He was looking for a détente with Russia. He was an anti-colonialist."