Raiders!, a documentary of the story behind the greatest fan film ever made, is set to have its world premiere at SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX on March 14, 2015. Raiders! chronicles the epic thirty year journey that began in 1982 when two twelve-year-old kids in Mississipi set out to film a mind-bogglingly ambitious shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Before it debuts at SXSW next month, the first trailer and photo have been released.
It took Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos seven summers to make Raiders of the Lost Ark - The Adaptation. By saving up their allowances, hijacking younger siblings, and setting Eric's basement on fire, the boys used astonishing ingenuity to make a film that is surprisingly entertaining and even stunning at times. For fifteen years, Raiders of the Lost Ark - The Adaptation was nearly a forgotten masterpiece of fan filmmaking until Aint It Cool News' Harry Knowles screened it publicly in Austin, TX from a copy obtained by filmmaker Eli Roth. It became an instant phenomenon, generating global media coverage and even getting the attention of Chris and Eric's idol, Steven Spielberg.
Eric, Chris and their childhood cast and crew reshot every scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Every scene except one: the infamous Flying Wing scene where the shirtless Nazi strongman is cut up by the circling plane's propeller. Needless to say, as children in the early 1980s, it was difficult for them to procure a suitable plane to blow up in Mississippi. Being the perfectionists that they are, it's something that has always nagged at Eric and Chris.
Raiders! follows the twenty-five year reunion of most of the original cast and crew, now in their early 40s, in Ocean Springs, MS to finally complete the adaptation with this last missing scene in the summer of 2014. How have time and adulthood changed everyone? Will they still have the same determination and excitement they had as kids? What do their family members think of it? This insightful and heartfelt documentary reveals for the first time the full behind-the-scenes story of Chris and Eric's inspiring journey to finally finish their labor of love. Raiders! digs deep into their friendship and their mutual persistence to complete a seemingly ridiculous and impossible task, reminding us of the innocence and purity we had as children to follow our dreams no matter how crazy or stupid others said they are. Take a look at the first trailer and photo for Raiders! below, and stay tuned fore more news about when it may hit theaters nationwide.