Friday, October 7, 2016
Quotes from 'An evening with...' tribute dinner for Kristen at NYFF - 5 October 2016
Some quotes and details from the 'An evening with...' tribute dinner for Kristen at NYFF on 5 October 2016.
She would probably blush a bit at being called the belle of the ball — but on Wednesday, 10 floors about the NYFF’s main venue Alice Tully Hall, Stewart was feted at a special dinner organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. While guest sipped coffee and ate cronuts a la mode, she sat with fest director Kent Jones for a funny, self-deprecating, highly verbal conversation about her career and the three pictures — or rather three and a half — that she’s excited to support.
Assayas, who directed Stewart to a French Caesar Award (the first ever for an American actress) three years ago in Clouds of Sils Maria, reunited with her for this semi-supernatural thriller set amid the Paris fashion world.
“I’ve rarely been wrong about those feelings,” she said, referring to her rich, fruitful relationship with the director. “If I meet somebody who I really like and we don’t fall in love with each other, I’m like, ‘Wait, wait, wait, you tricked me, you’re a sociopath.’ But those experiences are rare.”
“So that would include Olivier?” Jones asked.
“He’s a sociopath,” she deadpanned, as Assayas giggled with laughter at Stewart’s table. “But he’s doing really good things for my career.”
Her wry sarcasm died off as she spoke more deeply about the director. “What Olivier does astonishingly well is show all this other stuff coming to the surface in his film. And these things just kind of blew my head off. We agree when things are right and we agree when things are wrong — and so we can be so much more focused on our intentions. I feel this dude. It’s the conversations that occur at the wrap party that are the most interesting, but throughout film it’s just glances between us and it’s almost like we’re both thermometers — and usually kinda the same temperature. “
“Kelly Reichardt makes movies about things that people brush over all the time,” Stewart said of the director of this film about the lives of three different women. “I hate doing the whole ‘Let’s talk about women!’ stuff. Most female-centric stories are about the adversity that women face, and the three women in this film are really struggling, but there’s no resolve. To focus on mundane things and let people sit and be is so vulnerable. I love Kelly’s perspective. Her movies are so natural and she’s a steel train, so composed.”
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Stewart explained that she’s fascinated by the process of filmmaking (while admitting that she felt bashful to say so), but even her curiosity was tested by Ang Lee’s game-changing new war drama, which is shot in a super-crisp 120-frame-per-second format that’s never been attempted before in a feature film.
“Joe Alwyn, who plays Billy Lynn, this was his first movie,” Stewart said. “I love working with first-time actors, especially when they’re curious. I’m like, “Yeah, man, let’s f—ing talk about it!’ But he often would be asking questions to me and I was like, “I have no idea what’s going on.’ It was hard. Every actor went home saying, ‘I have no idea what we did today.’ But that’s also a great place to be. It’s just not normal. But I would never do anything if I knew how it was going to end up.”
Stewart also just completed filming a short film called Water, which she wrote and directed. “It’s pretty painterly,” she said. “I’m not hiding behind anything by making the film sort of avant garde, but what I hoping everyone in the audience will stop thinking until the end. I wanted it to feel like something that washes over you.”
She described the short as “the most satisfying thing I have ever done.”
According to Hollywood lore, as a kid, Kristen Stewart never imagined she’d end up an actress, instead hoping to get into writing and directing, something behind the camera that still allowed her to actively explore an industry she’s loved most of her life. Nearly twenty years later, Stewart’s finally getting to do just that.
While being honored at this week’s “An Evening With Kristen Stewart” event, thrown in conjunction by the New York Film Festival and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, a giddy Stewart spilled a few more details about her first short, a project that was announced back in May as part of Refinery29’s female filmmaker-focused Shatterbox Anthology series. The film is entitled “Come Swim,” and Refinery29 will release it sometime later this year. (You can check out some of the other short films that have come from the Refinery29 and Shatterbox initiative, including a new offering from filmmaker Meera Menon, right here.)
For Stewart, who has been acting since she the tender age of 8 and grew up in a family that was always closely aligned with the entertainment industry — her father is a stage manager and television producer, while her mother is a script supervisor who has directed in the past — making her own films now seems like the natural progression of a career already in its second decade. And it seems like it’s already panned out.
“I’ve never been happier doing anything, [I] found the next level, so excited,” she told the crowd.
Despite her affection for her new career path, Stewart isn’t leaving behind acting any time soon. In fact, she’s already eagerly finding parallels between her work in front of and behind the camera.
“I don’t draw a distinction between the two positions — they felt so similar to me,” Stewart said. “One is more sporadic and sort of like impulsive and flippant in a way, because once it’s done, it’s done. It’s a super lightning in a bottle thing. And you can’t take credit for it, it’s something that happened, and you’re like, ‘That was great, I’m appreciative of being a part of it, and I’m proud that I was able to.’ As a director, you can hold something so close to you.”
Stewart admits she didn’t take any huge risks with her first short, as she explained to the audience, “It’s kind of expressionistic, it’s pretty painterly. I’m not hiding behind anything by doing a slightly avant garde first thing.”
Still, she does seem particularly attuned to the specific limitations — and freedoms — of working with a short format, elements she happily embraced.
“What I want to do is just make sure that everyone stops thinking until the very end,” Stewart explained. “When you’re watching a short, you’re always trying to figure out why the short’s been made, because you only have not that long to figure, ‘What is this about? I know. I’m going to get it, I’m going to get it.’ I wanted it to feel like something that washes over you.”
For the budding director, the element of collaboration seems to have been a major draw to stepping behind the camera and she relished the opportunity to assemble her own team of all-stars. “I batted for the fences in terms of crewing up,” she said. “Some people were really young and hungry and ambitious and so talented and innovative and weird, and then some people were just people that I am a huge fan of.”
By way of example, she shared a bit of the process that went into working with her editor, remembering, “I saw him kind of get it, because I was excited, and he caught that and it was contagious. And he was like, ‘I’m excited because you’re excited.’ And I’m like, ‘That’s great, but what I really would love is like if you got excited because you got selfish and you had this desire that I gave you.’ And it happened, it was the coolest thing.”
Sharing her vision — really sharing it — seems to excite Stewart the most right now, and she felt that in a big way while crafting her first film.
“That is the most satisfying thing I have ever done,” she said. “As an actor, you’re like a little thing that can help everyone feel this, but when it comes from you — it’s like validation in the most ultimate. You’re not alone. Like, ‘I see you, girl. I see you, and I get it.’ It’s like, ‘Yes!’
As for the final product, Stewart couldn’t help but throw in some of her trademark self-deprecation.
“It’s probably shit!” she laughed. “No, it’ll be good. I really like it, and that’s a huge pleasure. You can maybe not like it, but I don’t think you can say it’s not well-done.”
French director Olivier Assayas wasn't exactly going out on a limb when he called Kristen Stewart the greatest actress of her generation — she's the first American actress to ever win a César award, and she's in three distinctly different movies at this year's New York Film Festival, Personal Shopper, Certain Women, and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, all of which have earned her high praise.
But Stewart isn't above geeking out over his comments. "He has good taste," she joked to Vulture at a NYFF event Wednesday night before adding: "No [seriously], he does have good taste. I also know how close he is to his work; I know how personal it is for him. So I know he would only say that because I was able to get about as close to his thing as he is. And honestly, it makes me feel great. I would go to really stupid lengths to satisfy that vision, so him saying that means I did it."
Stewart has said that she's naturally attracted to "isolating and terrible" roles like the one she undertakes in Assayas's Personal Shopper, where she plays Maureen, a woman mourning the loss of her twin brother. "It's just an absurd default setting that I have," she explained. "It's like a survival instinct: to push [myself] to where I feel closest to ... I don't want to be dramatic and say 'death,' but to where you feel closest to losing control. You feel so alive when you've lost everything. I feel like, with anything worth doing, I usually have that feeling."
The New York Film Festival will be posting video of the evening at some point. We will post it as soon as its available.