Interviews: Panahi, Denis, and More

Up at the top, that’s Behnaz Jafari and Jafar Panahi in Panahi’s 3 Faces, which is slated to premiere in Competition in Cannes next month. Film Comment points us to an interview with Panahi in the latest issue of World Policy Journal conducted by Jamsheed Akrami, who teaches at William Paterson University and has directed a trilogy of documentaries about Iranian cinema. As Kino Lorber tells us, The Lost Cinema is about political filmmaking under the Shah; Friendly Persuasion picks up the story after the 1979 revolution; and A Cinema of Discontent addresses censorship in country now.

The conversation touches on all these topics as well as on Panahi’s features, his work with Abbas Kiarostami, and his current status: “I don’t feel free. My lawyer friend, Nasrin Sotoudeh, makes a good point in Taxi when she says that they release you from a small prison into a larger one because they’re still after you. I feel I am in that large prison now.”

“When you say ‘female director’ I already want to stop this conversation!” Claire Denis tells the Irish TimesDonald Clarke. But she doesn’t. Even when he asks about her work as an assistant director on Jim Jarmusch’s Down by Law (1986) and Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire (1987). “I hate to answer this question. You don’t learn from a person—unless you’re getting drunk with them and things like that. You are not an assistant to learn from somebody. You are physically next to them. Driving next to them. Drinking next to them. Eating with them. It is not a monastery where the monks are learning from a prayer book. It is humanity. It is sexiness. They are sexy.”

Denis tells Clarke, by the way, that High Life, her English-language debut with Robert Pattinson, wouldn’t be ready for Cannes. The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy, though, believes it has been screened for the selection committee. Artistic director Thierry Frémaux has promised that a few more titles will be added to the lineup, so we’ll see.

Isabella Rossellini’s “charming new book, My Chickens and I, details her poultry-raising efforts on her Long Island farm,” writes David Marchese at the top of his interview for Vulture. “And just this year, Rossellini returned after a twenty-two-year absence as one of the faces of Lancôme. Animals and natural splendor also factor into Link Link Circus, the ‘theatrical lecture’ that the Italian native, currently working toward a master’s degree in animal behavior and conservation at Hunter College, will perform at Manhattan’s Baryshnikov Arts Center in May. ‘When I look at my life now,’ she says, ‘I’m glad to know that I’m in control. It wasn’t always this way.’”

For Another Man,Michael-Oliver Harding profiles Josh and Benny Safdie, and their father, Alberto Safdie, comes up. “Any Safdie fan who’s screened their second, partly-autobiographical feature, 2009’s Daddy Longlegs, about a divorced and supremely irresponsible dad, knows the Safdies’ father-son dynamic is a fraught one at best. ‘I think Daddy Longlegs, for both Ben and I, was a reflection on the past without any shred of sentimentality,’ explains Josh. ‘It was taking the memory outside of the brain, cutting it up, looking at it under a microscope and being very vicious about it.’”

Western director Valeska Grisebach tells Little White LiesDavid Jenkins about becoming “interested in the later westerns where they discuss this idea of constructing a modern society. The genre deals with ambivalence—the question of how much someone wants to be part of a society.”

Vulture’s Emily Yoshida asks Chloé Zhao, director of The Rider, what’s next: “I’m working on a historic Western about Bass Reeves, who was a U.S. deputy marshal working in Indian territory. He was born into slavery but escaped in the Civil War and lived among the tribes. So it’s his life story. And then a small little road movie, and a little sci-fi.” Talk Easy host Sam Fragoso also chats with Chloé “about everything from working with Spike Lee to Chloé’s fanfic-writing secret identity to the surprisingly freeing feeling of hitting rock bottom.” (58’15”).

At the Film Stage, Sam May gets into the nitty gritty of making 2001: A Space Odyssey fifty years ago with special effects legend Douglas Trumbull.

“Hell isn’t when horrible things happen. Hell is when horrible things happen again and again,” Sergei Loznitsa tells the Guardian’s Luke Harding. This will be the operating principle behind Donbass, the film he’s just completed shooting about the war between Ukraine and Russia.

For Studio Daily, Steve Erickson talks with Sophie Fiennes about the five-year-long process of making Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami.

At the Playlist, Gregory Ellwood gets a few words with Brad Bird about Incredibles 2 and “his thoughts on Steven Spielberg making The Iron Giant a centerpiece of the blockbuster Ready Player One.

Lawrence Wright is not only co-creator of The Looming Tower, the Hulu series based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning history of Al-Qaeda, he’s also written a play that Bob Balaban has helped shape about the making of Cleopatra (1963) with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and he has another new book out, God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State.Elizabeth Banicki talks with him for the Austin Chronicle.


On the new Talkhouse Podcast (33’06”), Eliza Hittman (Beach Rats) talks with Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here) about “the adaptation process, tackling violent subject matter, making a thriller for the first time, staying open to new ideas during all phases of the creative process, balancing life and work, and much more besides.” Also talking with Ramsay are Criterion’s own Hillary Weston and, for Filmstruck, Alicia Malone.

The Ringer’s Sean Fennessey talks with Andrew Haigh about Lean on Pete “and the difference between making TV shows and making movies.” (31’58”). Alex Heeney interviews Haigh as well for the Seventh Row.

Steve Buscemi is a guest on TIFF Long Take (30’35”).


Ondi Timoner (We Live in Public) launches a new talk show, WeTalk, “about the women shaping our culture,” and her first guests are directors Lynn Shelton (Outside In) and Megan Griffiths (Sadie) (33’53”).

The Notebook’s Daniel Kasman and Kurt Walker ask Esther Garrel “about her experiences working on Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name and her father Philippe Garrel’s latest film, Lover for a Day” (11’27”).

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