Barefoot Bandit film screens this week in Seattle festival

SEATTLE — When Canadian filmmakers Adam and Andrew Gray last visited Seattle they were chasing down the story of Colton Harris-Moore, the baby-faced Camano Island serial burglar known for the taunting bare footprints he often left behind at crime scenes.

The brothers plan to return this week to share what they learned.

The Grays directed, shot and edited “Fly Colt Fly: Legend of the Barefoot Bandit,” spending several weeks in western Washington while Harris-Moore was still on the run. They followed his exploits to the Bahamas where he was finally nabbed in July 2010.

Their documentary, told through interviews, live footage and animation, is scheduled for three screenings at the Seattle International Film Festival beginning Thursday.

“Obviously Seattle is the perfect place for the U.S. premiere of the film,” Adam Gray said. “People in Seattle are familiar with Colton.”

So, it turned out, were people in Vancouver, B.C., where the film was part of the DOXA Documentary Film Festival earlier this month.

“We had a great reaction,” Gray said. “It seemed like most of the people there were aware of Colton but probably didn’t know the extent of his misadventures. I think people were a little surprised by some of the things he did.”

His nine-state, three-country crime spree grabbed international attention when he broke into homes and businesses and stole cars, boats and airplanes.

Harris-Moore started young, committing burglaries when he was 10. By 15, his face was on wanted posters distributed by Island County Sheriff’s deputies. He broke out of juvenile detention in 2007 and stole his first plane in November 2008, teaching himself to fly — and land — by trial and error. He later crashed a stolen plane near Granite Falls and set off a manhunt that included SWAT teams, the FBI and helicopters.

He now is serving a seven-year prison term.

The directors argue that Harris-Moore’s story is as much about myth as it is about fact and that he couldn’t live up to the celebrity of the folklore.

The brothers amassed more than 150 hours of footage they edited into an 82-minute film. The documentary is scheduled to begin airing on Canadian TV in June.

At the Vancouver showing, the Grays caught up with people who picked up Harris-Moore when he was hitchhiking in British Columbia.

They hope that some of the people they interviewed in western Washington will attend the Seattle showing.

One who plans to be there is former Herald reporter Jackson Holtz, who covered the Harris-Moore story on the crime beat and wrote the book “Fly Colton Fly: The True Story of the Barefoot Bandit.”

“Colton was said to have eaten popcorn when he broke into people’s vacation homes,” Holtz said. “Now, audiences get to eat popcorn while watching Colton’s story on the big screen at SIFF.”

Holtz said the Harris-Moore story continues to capture the imagination of people around the world.

“I’m personally excited to see this film on the big screen for the first time,” he said.

The film is scheduled for screenings at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. June 8 at the SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N,, and 11 a.m. May 31 at the Egyptian Theatre, 805 E. Pine St. The Gray brothers plan to attend the May 29 and 31 showings for question and answer sessions.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com

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