Synopsis by Mark Deming
Douglas Bruce was a British expatriate living in New York City who in the early morning hours of July 3, 2003, found himself on a subway train heading toward Coney Island, with no memory of who he was, where he lived, or how he ended up on the subway. Bruce ended up asking a policeman for help, and was checked into the psychiatric ward at Coney Island Hospital. As doctors struggled to find out what had happened to him, he was admitted simply as "unknown white male." In time, a phone number in Bruce's wallet led doctors to a friend who identified him, but he himself still had absolutely no memory of his past. Rupert Murray was an old friend of Bruce's who heard about his condition and came to visit him with camera in tow and a stack of old home movies to reintroduce Bruce to his past. However, when he arrived in New York, Murray saw an old friend, but found a courteous but wary stranger looking back, and found that the "new" Douglas Bruce was in many ways a different man than the old Bruce. Murray followed Bruce as he struggled to relearn his own life, understand the history he could no longer recall, and grew into a new person with a new personality, and Unknown White Male is a documentary assembled from Murray's footage of both the new and old Dougs. Unknown White Male received its North American premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
amnesia, past, rediscovery, starting-over