Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017) - News Poster

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2017’s Best Documentaries By and About Women

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A workers’ rights activist, a movie star-turned-inventor, and a retiring prima ballerina are just a few of the characters at the center of our favorite documentaries by and about women this year. These films — and the women they chronicle — inspired and educated us. They also offered something that’s often ignored in history books: a female perspective. In short, they should be essential viewing.

Chavela” — Directed by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi

Chavela” directors Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi said it best: Chavela Vargas was a “badass butch.” There was a lot that could have prevented the singer from finding success. She began performing as a homeless runaway. She was also a lesbian and refused to closet herself in a time when homosexuality was considered an illness at best, a crime at worst. Vargas lived her entire life the way she wanted, no matter what — and thank god for that.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

How Do Film Critics Decide Which Films Are Worth Covering in the Age of Netflix? — IndieWire Critics Survey

  • Indiewire
How Do Film Critics Decide Which Films Are Worth Covering in the Age of Netflix? — IndieWire Critics Survey
Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of film critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?”, can be found at the end of this post.)

This week’s question:

Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” is now streaming on Netflix (in addition to playing in a few theaters), and the Oscar-tipped Sundance favorite is as high-profile a film as the streaming giant has ever premiered. It’s another landmark moment in the ongoing shift towards novel distribution patterns — once upon a time it was easy enough to divide things into theatrical releases and films that went straight-to-video, but now there are at least 50 shades of gray.

Read More:‘Mudbound’: Dee Rees, Faith, and the Long Path She Took to Make Her Epic Oscar Contender

As a result of this sea change, a number of major films
See full article at Indiewire »

Getting with the programme by Anne-Katrin Titze

Jairus McLeary in the Soho House screening room on The Work: "It's very masculine. That's why Amy Foote, our editor, and Alice Henty, the producer, they were the first women to see this footage." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Rebecca Miller's Arthur Miller: Writer; Doug Nichol's California Typewriter; Andrew Rossi on Okwui Okpokwasili's Bronx Gothic; Elvira Lind's Bobbi Jene; Michael Almereyda's Escapes on Hampton Fancher; Brett Morgen's Jane on Jane Goodall; Ceyda Torun's KEDi; Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum's Letters From Baghdad with Tilda Swinton voicing Getrude Bell; Griffin Dunne's Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold; Agnès Varda and Jr's Faces Places; Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane's School Life; Ferne Pearlstein's The Last Laugh; Lara Stolman's Swim Team; Kirk Simon's The Pulitzer At 100, and Josh Koury and Myles Kane's Voyeur on Gay Talese
See full article at eyeforfilm.co.uk »

Guest Post: How a Joan Didion Doc Became a Kickstarter Success and Landed at Netflix

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

Guest Post by Elise McCave

This past week “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold” arrived on Netflix. It’s been quite a road to launching the doc on the streaming service, including a New York Film Festival premiere and a theatrical run in New York. Not too shabby for a project that some thought would never see the light of day.

“There had never been a film about Joan Didion before. When we tried to get production funds, people said they wanted to see a movie about Joan but their enthusiasm didn’t translate into what we needed: a production deal or significant funding. Part of their hesitation was that they didn’t see the audience for it,” said Mary Recine, one of the doc’s producers. She explained, “We knew we had something valuable — a film about a fierce and iconic writer made by her nephew, who had his own following. We knew that ultimately we needed a marketing campaign that highlighted Joan’s appeal to several generations of readers and viewers, as much as we needed a fundraising campaign. Doing a Kickstarter campaign and working with Alex Daly as campaign manager just made sense.”

So the team, led by actor and director Griffin Dunne — Joan’s nephew — and producers Mary and Annabelle Dunne, Joan’s grandniece — first launched the film into the world with a Kickstarter campaign in October 2014. I’m the Director of Narrative Film at the funding platform.

Not only did the project generate extensive press, including coverage from Vogue and The Guardian, it also hit the project’s modest $80k goal in just over a day and went on to raise more than $220k to set things in motion with great momentum.

But what was it that made it such a runaway success? And are there lessons that other filmmakers can take from the film team’s experience to give their fundraising campaigns the same boost? I spoke with Annabelle, Mary, and Alex, crowdfunding veteran and author of “The Crowdsourceress,” about their collaboration with Kickstarter.

“My team and I built a campaign around exclusive access: through the filmmakers’ docu-style video and through the highly personal, intimate rewards,” said Alex. Annabelle added, “We wanted to give people a glimpse of what sort of things they could expect from this project. An intimate look at Joan’s life and work, largely through her own words.”

Rewards gave a sneak peak into both Joan’s life, but also into the filmmaking process — access to the filmmakers’ production notes, to Joan and husband John’s columns in the Saturday Evening Post, to a handwritten list of her 12 most important books to read before you die, and to her recipe book from years of entertaining in Malibu. “Whatever we came up with, we made sure it connected directly to Joan Didion. The rewards were all about her, and fans wanted them,” Alex said.

The team built up social media accounts on Instagram and Twitter with the intention of posting sticky content and starting conversations with people who would go on to become supporters.

“We posted images that paired beautiful, rare archival photos with quotes from Joan,” recalled Alex. “If we found a great photo on one account, sometimes we’d tag a few of the other users who we knew loved her, as if to say, ‘Hey, check this out!’ Soon, it started to feel like we were all in a secret club together.”

“The social media aspect was surprising,” said Annabelle. “I don’t think any of us were quite aware of how strong Joan’s image and following would be on social media. Certainly for a writer, that was unprecedented. It was important to us that we could harness the social media energy to build into something bigger and more engaging. Something that would ultimately prompt people to go out and read her work.”

The fan club helped to spread the word organically and, paired with some exceptional press, launch day was a hit.

Once the project was funded — by day two — they kept the momentum going. Annabelle, Mary, Alex and their teams weren’t just funding a film, they were directly engaging with its future audience, so their strategy focused on community building.

So they drove the campaign with new rewards, updates with special content, influencer takeovers, and more. Stylist and fashion editor Christopher Niquet was invited to make Joan Didion t-shirts as a new reward tier. Artist Avery Nejam made a print of Joan. An original “Panic in Needle Park” manuscript signed by Joan and director Jerry Schatzberg was offered up.

“Griffin and Annabelle had a direct, intimate familial connection to Joan; thousands of strangers had a direct, intimate literary connection to Joan. Crowdsourcing allowed us to put the two together,” said Mary.

But, as Annabelle noted, “once we were funded, the hard part started! We had to focus all of our energy on producing a film that would live up to the expectations we had created from our campaign’s success. While also trying to stay in communication with our backers and the community of early supporters of the project.”

Once the Kickstarter campaign concluded there was “tangible proof that there was a large audience for a documentary about Joan,” Annabelle said. “We’d had positive feedback from the backers, along with some incredible press highlighting Joan’s cultural relevance. It was exactly the sort of thing that a large scale distributor like Netflix responds to. While we knew that the money raised from Kickstarter would never be able to fully finance the film, it was an instrumental tool in partnering to become a Netflix Original.”

This exemplary Kickstarter campaign, run by a team of whip-smart women, ended up raising nearly three times its goal and was a clear sign to audiences, investors, and distributors alike, that there was — and is — enormous enthusiasm for a film about this literary giant, beloved for her cool prose and iconic style.

Elise McCave works with Kickstarter’s community of filmmakers on the strategy and messaging of their campaigns, and supporting them through the process as they raise funds and build communities around their projects.

https://medium.com/media/3eb27c7551667f12cfeb03f6433ef505/href

Guest Post: How a Joan Didion Doc Became a Kickstarter Success and Landed at Netflix was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Harrison Ford Worked as Joan Didion’s Carpenter: ‘I Didn’t Know Where I Was Going, How I Got There’

  • Indiewire
Harrison Ford Worked as Joan Didion’s Carpenter: ‘I Didn’t Know Where I Was Going, How I Got There’
That Harrison Ford worked as a carpenter before hitting it big with “Star Wars” is fairly well known by now, but what of his clientele? According to the new documentary “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold,” the future Han Solo once slouched towards Bethlehem with the subject of Griffin Dunne’s film when she was living in Malibu.

Read More:Joan Didion and Arthur Miller Get the Documentary Treatment From Family Members, And That Makes All the Difference — Nyff

“I spent a couple of months there in their house, every day,” Ford says. “First thing in the morning, last thing at the end of every day, explaining why we hadn’t made more progress and how it was going to cost even more money.” Dunne is Didion’s nephew, and his movie about her — which premiered at the New York Film Festival and is now streaming on Netflix — took six years to complete.
See full article at Indiewire »

7 Great Documentaries About Remarkable Women, From ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’ to ‘The Beaches of Agnes’

7 Great Documentaries About Remarkable Women, From ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’ to ‘The Beaches of Agnes’
Two of the world’s most influential women — pioneering primatologist Jane Goodall and lauded writer Joan Didion — are both on the receiving end of insightful new documentaries this year, both of which are hitting screens in the coming weeks. Brett Morgen’s “Jane” (which opened just last week to deservedly rave reviews) tracks the early years of Goodall’s work in Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park, combining both new interviews with the still-trailblazing scientist and early footage lensed by her former husband Hugo van Lawick (a celebrated animal photographer) to tell a full-bodied story about Goddall’s amazing ethic and her tremendous empathy for the animals she’s made the center of her life.

This week, Griffin Dunne’s look at Didion’s life, “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold,” will arrive on Netflix, following her own early years and her current state as a literary icon. Both
See full article at Indiewire »

Film Review: ‘Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold’

Film Review: ‘Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold’
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold” is a documentary that’s incisive and haunting, like Didion’s best writing. It includes interviews with Joan Didion culled from over the decades, but it’s centered on one conducted by the film’s director, Griffin Dunne (who’s her nephew), in which Didion, in her early 80s, appears before us as a kind of wizened elfin patrician soothsayer. The skin on her hands is like parchment, with purplish veins bursting through, and her face — still beautiful, now timeless — is so creased with experience that even in repose, she looks as if she’s laughing and crying at the same time. Yet with just a few words, Didion’s diamond clarity of mind can cut the air.

The writers who became the celebrated literary sensations of the 1960s look, if anything, even more glamorous today than they did then; one now gazes back with a touch of awe on
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Nyff: Joan Didion's Magic Years

by Jason Adams

"Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends."

The instant. Not "an" instant, which is how most of us would sort that sentence. When writing of her husband's death in her book The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion said "the" instant, and in Joan Didion's wake nothing else seems right. Because it is not just any instant. It's the one that changed your life. At most, depending on how long we live, we might get a couple. Joan Didion, at 82, has had her own intimate yet earth-quaking share. And Joan Didion, as ever, is here to distill them down into apple crisp sentence form for us.

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, the new documentary on the author, was directed by Didion's nephew, the actor Griffin Dunne, and he makes similar Didion-esque
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Bill Pullman Doubles His Treasure at the Woodstock Film Festival

Bill Pullman Doubles His Treasure at the Woodstock Film Festival
During the Woodstock Film Festival’s Maverick Awards ceremony on Saturday night (Oct. 14), actor Bill Pullman graciously received an honorary award for Excellence In Acting and, as if on cue, allowed the trophy to fall to the floor and break in half. Holding up the pieces of his broken prize, Pullman quipped, “Oh my God, I’ve got two awards tonight!”

Maverick gestures aside, Pullman was also in Woodstock for the featured film “The Ballad of Lefty Brown,” an old-fashioned western drama, in which he stars. It screened at the Woodstock Playhouse for an enthusiastic crowd.

For the 2017 edition of the self-declared “fiercely independent” fest, currently in its 18th year and held Oct. 10 through 15, the programming was eco-friendly, class-conscious, gender-aware and racially sensitive — a fitting environment for the handful of host towns surrounding the area.

The Best Narrative Feature award went to the surreal comedy “Infinity Baby,” which was directed by Bob Byington and stars Kieran Culkin, [link
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Trailer Watch: Joan Didion Finds Her Voice in Netflix Doc “The Center Will Not Hold”

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

“My first notebook was given to me by my mother with the suggestion that I amuse myself by writing down my thoughts,” says Joan Didion in a new trailer for an upcoming Netflix documentary about her life and work. “I didn’t have any real clear picture of how to do it but I do remember having a very clear sense that I wanted this to continue.” And continue it did. Her 50-year career includes essays, novels, screenplays, and criticism.

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold” features archival footage of the celebrated American writer as well as in-depth interviews “about the eras she covered and the eventful life she’s lived, including partying with Janis Joplin in a house full of L.A. rockers; hanging in a recording studio with Jim Morrison; and cooking dinner for one of Charles Manson’s women for a magazine story,” the doc’s official synopsis details. “Didion guides us through the sleek literati scene of New York in the 1950s and early ’60s, when she wrote for Vogue, her return to her home state of California for two turbulent decades,” and much more.

“I’ve always found if I examine something it’s less scary,” Didion explains in the spot. One of the scariest experiences Didion has faced was the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, which she chronicled in “The Year of Magical Thinking,” the winner of the 2005 National Book Award for Nonfiction, and a topic of discussion in “The Center Will Not Hold.”

Didion’s best known books include “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” “The White Album,” and “Play It As It Lays.” “A Star Is Born,” “True Confessions,” and “Up Close & Personal” are among the screenplays she’s penned.

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold” is directed by Griffin Dunne (“The Good Wife”) and hits Netflix October 27.

https://medium.com/media/e07ff7bada8f3fc3fe5ddd404221f02c/href

Trailer Watch: Joan Didion Finds Her Voice in Netflix Doc “The Center Will Not Hold” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Joan Didion and Arthur Miller Get the Documentary Treatment From Family Members, And That Makes All the Difference — Nyff

  • Indiewire
Joan Didion and Arthur Miller Get the Documentary Treatment From Family Members, And That Makes All the Difference — Nyff
The following essay was produced as part of the 2017 Nyff Critics Academy, a workshop for aspiring film critics that took place during the 55th edition of the New York Film Festival.

Documentaries often get personal with their subjects, sometimes in ways that are essential to the powerful filmmaking on display. But what does it look like when family, so often the subject, mingles with the forces behind the camera?

Two new documentary films, “Arthur Miller: Writer” and “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold,” position their eponymous 20th century literary figures beneath their progeny’s gazes. Plenty ambitious, often neutral, and never too critical, these filmmakers seek a delicate, ethical balance between titillating an audience with the private life behind a public persona and executing a squeaky-clean legacy. Writer and director Rebecca Miller is tasked with her father Arthur, the man who used theater to confront the fallacies of the
See full article at Indiewire »

‘Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold’ Review: Incisive Writer Gets Equally Perceptive Documentary

  • The Wrap
‘Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold’ Review: Incisive Writer Gets Equally Perceptive Documentary
Joan Didion is viewed as a writer’s writer by a good many people. Her chiseled, deliberately repetitive sentences and apocalyptic “what’s the use?” point of view can be easily parodied, but when she has a worthy target — as when she has written about politics — her aim is often deadly accurate. Didion is a glamorous but humorless figure, a sparrow-like woman who sometimes moves in for the journalistic kill with the precision of a spider. “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold” (which debuts on Netflix Oct. 27) is clearly a labor of love from actor Griffin Dunne, who...
See full article at The Wrap »

'Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold': Film Review | Nyff 2017

'Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold': Film Review | Nyff 2017
There's a distinctly intimate vibe to the new documentary about writer Joan Didion. It's hardly surprising, considering that the film is directed by actor Griffin Dunne, who happens to be Didion's nephew by marriage. The result is a disarming portrait of the octogenarian writer whose intellectual powers have clearly not dimmed even as she's become physically frail. The filmmaker's closeness to his subject makes his film more interesting for its personal than informational aspects. The result is that Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold may be of most interest to those already familiar with the writer's life and career.

...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Official Trailer for Writer Doc 'Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold'

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for a documentary titled Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, profiling the life and work of literary icon Joan Didion, who is currently still alive at 82 years old. Directed by actor Griffin Dunne, who is Didion's nephew, the film dives deep into the 50-year career of this acclaimed and beloved writer, exploring her style and desires. She was most prominent in the 1960s and 70s counterculture movement, publishing a number of best-selling books and magazine essays. She also wrote a few screenplays and wrote about various topics from politics and the drug culture to the Charles Manson murders and the Patty Hearst trial. This doc seems to go into her personal life as well as her career, profiling the talented, inspiring woman in all her facets. Take a look. Trailer for Griffin Dunne's documentary
See full article at FirstShowing.net »

Griffin Dunne on Convincing Joan Didion to Make a Netflix Documentary

Griffin Dunne on Convincing Joan Didion to Make a Netflix Documentary
Joan Didion has been at the center of our cultural and political life for more than five decades, writing incisively on everything from war to rock music to murder in books such as “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” “The White Album,” and “Salvador.” As an essayist, novelist, critic, and screenwriter, she’s inspired a passionate following that is nearly unmatched in American letters. That status reached near deification levels with 2005’s “The Year of Magical Thinking.” In it, she reflects on her own personal tragedy, recounting her grief after the death of her husband John Gregory Dunne and her struggle to deal with the fatal illness of her daughter, Quintana Roo. By writing so unflinchingly about such a painful topic, she formed an even deeper connection with her readers.

It took her nephew, the filmmaker Griffin Dunne, to convince Didion to do what she had long resisted — sit down and shareher personal and professional remembrances on camera. The fruits
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Nyff 2017 Runs September 28-October 15; Here Are Five Films To Seek Out

It’s that time of year again. With fall festivals like Tiff and Venice now in the rear view mirror, the film world is focused squarely on the Mecca that is New York City, for arguably the year’s most interesting festival, Nyff. Running, this year, from September 28-October 15, the lineup includes not only the 25 Main Slate releases, but numerous others spread over sections ranging from experimental features to groundbreaking shorts and even a Robert Mitchum retrospective.

So how does one go about processing all of these films, or even where to begin when setting your own viewing schedule? Well, you could stick to the well known directors or the highly buzzed about properties that are making a stop on their long festival journey from as early as Cannes or Berlin of this year. But where’s the fun in that? How about a few genuine discoveries? That’s where
See full article at CriterionCast »

New York Film Festival’s 55th Edition Hopes to Make a Strong Case for Cinema

New York Film Festival’s 55th Edition Hopes to Make a Strong Case for Cinema
For an event that doesn’t hand out prizes, host swag suites or foster an acquisitions market, the New York Film Festival remains a remarkably essential event on the movie calendar.

More than half a century after its debut, it serves as a cinephile’s cauldron of competing ideologies, storytelling traditions and global perspectives, unspooling against the high-art backdrop of Lincoln Center. One more reason it remains especially relevant in industry circles: It is timed to the start of Oscar campaign season.

This year’s 55th edition, which runs Sept. 28 to Oct. 15, promises to also be something of a referendum on the nature of cinema, capping off a year of vigorous debate about that topic. From Cannes to SXSW, festivals of all sizes and missions have been grappling with the flow of filmmakers, talent and creative capital from independent film to the episodic realm.

Are series created for such streaming services as Netflix, Amazon
See full article at Variety - Film News »

New York Film Festival: 13 Films We Can’t Wait to See This Year, From ‘Lady Bird’ to ‘Last Flag Flying’

  • Indiewire
New York Film Festival: 13 Films We Can’t Wait to See This Year, From ‘Lady Bird’ to ‘Last Flag Flying’
The New York Film Festival kicks off later this week, sending us straight into the second half of a very busy fall festival season. In preparation for the festival, we’ve pinpointed its most exciting offerings, from never-before-seen narratives to insightful new documentaries, and plenty of previously-screened features looking to capitalize on strong word of mouth coming out of fellow tests like Venice, Telluride, and Toronto. In short, there’s plenty to experience in the coming weeks, so consider this your roadmap to the best of the fest.

Read More:Bryan Cranston Enters Oscar Race with New York Film Festival Opener ‘Last Flag Flying

Ahead, 13 essential titles — from buzzy world premieres to highlights from the 2017 circuit— that we can’t wait to see at this year’s New York Film Festival.

Arthur Miller: Writer

Documentaries about family members are always a dubious proposition. Some can also come across as overindulgent exercises,
See full article at Indiewire »

New York Film Festival Early Bird highlights by Anne-Katrin Titze

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold director Griffin Dunne Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

The Spotlight on Documentary programme at the 55th New York Film Festival has a number of high profile authors in the spotlight, including Gay Talese in Josh Koury and Myles Kane's Voyeur. Griffin Dunne's Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold with interviews with Harrison Ford, David Hare, Anna Wintour, Calvin Trillin, and Vanessa Redgrave (her Sea Sorrow is in the festival with Emma Thompson and Ralph Fiennes), and Rebecca Miller's portrait Arthur Miller: Writer (with Tony Kushner and Mike Nichols commenting on her father's career) are two excellent insider depictions. Aki Kaurismäki's The Other Side Of Hope (starring Sherwan Haji, Sakari Kuosmanen) and Chloé Zhao's The Rider, screening in the Main Slate, round out the four early bird highlights.

The Rider is the winner of the <a href="...
See full article at eyeforfilm.co.uk »

New York Film Festival: Alex Gibney, Vanessa Redgrave, and Abel Ferrara Join Documentary Spotlight Lineup

New York Film Festival: Alex Gibney, Vanessa Redgrave, and Abel Ferrara Join Documentary Spotlight Lineup
The 55th New York Film Festival will debut a starry roster of documentaries featuring giants of the art and literary worlds as well as Alex Gibney’s postponed “No Stone Unturned,” a critical investigation into the 1994 Loughinisland massacre in Ireland, which was pulled from Tribeca in April.

Other new works include films from directors Abel Ferrara, Sara Driver, Nancy Buirski, Mathieu Amalric, and Barbet Schroeder; Vanessa Redgrave’s directorial debut “Sea Sorrow,” which played at Cannes; and films featuring Joan Didion, Arthur Miller, Gay Talese, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Jane Goodall, plus stories about racism, American immigration, and the global refugee crisis.

Three documentaries spotlight acclaimed writers, including the world premiere of Griffin Dunne’s “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold,” returning Nyff filmmaker Rebecca Miller’s tender portrait of her father, “Arthur Miller: Writer,” and the World Premiere of Myles Kane and Josh Koury’s “Voyeur,” tracking journalist Gay Talese
See full article at Thompson on Hollywood »
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