Coming . . . Eventually

On Film / The Daily — Jun 18, 2020
Andrei Tarkovsky

With the industry locked down, we haven’t been hearing much lately about projects in the works. But over the past few days, as Cannes prepares to open its first-ever virtual market, filmmakers have begun talking about the packages they’ll be shopping at the Marché du Film next week. Three of the most promising productions currently being set up are to be directed by James Gray, Pablo Larraín, and Kirill Serebrennikov.

Gray tells Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. quite a bit about Armageddon Time, a period drama slated to star Cate Blanchett, Robert De Niro, Oscar Isaac, Donald Sutherland, and Anne Hathaway. “I’m trying to do something that is the opposite of the vast, lonely, and dark void of the movie I just directed,” says Gray, referring, of course, to Ad Astra starring Brad Pitt as an astronaut roaming the solar system in search of his father. “I’m anxious to make something that is very much about people, about human emotions and interactions between people, and I want it to be filled with warmth and tenderness.” Gray will be drawing on his memories of switching schools in 1980 to tell a story that addresses an “obsession I have with examining American ideas of class mobility . . . in a context that is humane with social impact.” Fleming notes that Gray “hopes to shoot in New York as soon as post-pandemic opportunities make it possible.”

Fleming is also the first to report on Spencer, Larraín’s upcoming feature starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana. Written by Steven Knight (Locke), the film is set over a period of three days in the early 1990s when Diana came to the realization that her marriage to Prince Charles was fraying. “When someone decides not to be the queen,” Larraín (Jackie, Ema) tells Fleming, “and says, I’d rather go and be myself, it’s a big, big decision, a fairy tale upside down . . . That is the heart of the movie.” As for Stewart, she “can be many things, and she can be very mysterious and very fragile and ultimately very strong as well, which is what we need. The combination of those elements made me think of her. The way she responded to the script and how she is approaching the character, it’s very beautiful to see. I think she’s going to do something stunning and intriguing at the same time. She is this force of nature.”

Serebrennikov (The Student, Leto) is currently in postproduction on Petrov’s Flu, an adaptation of the novel by Alexeï Salnikov about a comic book artist in post-Soviet Russia who has fallen ill and sways in his delirium between fantasy and reality. Variety’s Christopher Vourlias reports that Hype Film will be taking that one to the Marché du Film as well as a potentially even more intriguing project, a limited series—a first for Serebrennikov, who will write and direct—based on the life of Andrei Tarkovsky. Serebrennikov, the artistic director of the Gogol Center in Moscow, launched his career in the theater, and when he was asked a few years ago about what had inspired him to begin directing films, he simply listed names: Cassavetes, Buñuel, Bergman, Pasolini, and of course, Tarkovsky.

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