Unknown White Male

Director: Rupert Murray

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


Arriving at the end of the Brooklyn subway line on a rainy day in Coney Island, a handsome young man with a British accent finds himself in strange clothes, on totally alien terrain, with absolutely no idea of who he is. Frightened and alone, without a clue to his identity, he turns himself in to the police, who, after questioning, send him to the psychiatric ward of a nearby hospital. Located through a scrap of information, a friend eventually arrives to rescue the man (now identified as Doug Bruce), and the process of reestablishing his family ties and personal history begins. But as far as the unknown man himself is concerned—and despite all the assumptions made about how his past could have slipped so effortlessly into the abyss—his 37 years of life remain a cipher.

What would it be like to live without a history or past? In relating what is a real-life psychological and biological mystery, director Rupert Murray brilliantly deploys an unconventional narrative structure, which does not simply chronicle the unexplained evaporation of a memory but examines the nature of memory itself. The result is a truly extraordinary story told with a striking visual style and tremendous heart.

— Diane Weyermann

Screening Details


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]