Director Griffin Dunne on Joan Didion's extraordinary life, and why she won't write about Trump

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Director Griffin Dunne on Joan Didion's extraordinary life, and why she won't write about Trump

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Writer Joan Didion, left, with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and daughter, Quintana. Her life and work are the subject of Griffin Dunne’s new documentary  Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. (Photo: Netflix)

a short film to promote her memoir Blue Nights. “I became aware of the fact that there wasn’t a documentary about her and was stunned by that,” said Dunne. “And I thought, if I ask and she says yes, I would be the only one she would say yes to. I would be the only one in the position to actually make this film that I suspected people were really hungry to see.”” data-reactid=”32″>Dunne’s documentary Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (premiering Friday on Netflix) is a loving tribute to the life and work of his 82-year-old aunt, told through extensive interviews with friends, family, admirers, and, of course, Didion herself. The idea for the film came to Dunne six years ago, after he and Didion made a short film to promote her memoir Blue Nights. “I became aware of the fact that there wasn’t a documentary about her and was stunned by that,” said Dunne. “And I thought, if I ask and she says yes, I would be the only one she would say yes to. I would be the only one in the position to actually make this film that I suspected people were really hungry to see.”

“It blew my mind,” Dunne said. “It also, I thought, captured exactly who Joan is and why she is such an important journalist. Because moments earlier, she talked about having to go on location to San Francisco and leave her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Quintana, behind and how much she missed her. And then you have that same mother look at somebody else’s child and going, ‘Oh my God, this moment is gold.’”

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Filmmaker Griffin Dunne. (Image: AOL Build)

politics was to dissect the evil geniuses’ message and what it really meant, and what the New York Times was saying about the message, and seeing what the New York Amsterdam News in Harlem was all saying about the same thing, and come up with what people are really saying. The Twitter sound bites, they just don’t hold her interest.”” data-reactid=”58″>Didion’s work is both personal and political, and much of it resonates deeply in this age of cultural upheaval and anxiety. According to Dunne, Didion is “worried about the future like everybody else,” but the current president is simply “not a compelling-enough figure” to make her take up the pen again. “There’s no subtext, there’s no hidden agenda [with Donald Trump],” Dunne said. “What she excelled in as a writer of American politics was to dissect the evil geniuses’ message and what it really meant, and what the New York Times was saying about the message, and seeing what the New York Amsterdam News in Harlem was all saying about the same thing, and come up with what people are really saying. The Twitter sound bites, they just don’t hold her interest.”

—&nbsp;</span>“You’re never going to get a thing out of her on that,” he told Yahoo&nbsp;—&nbsp;but the documentary gave her a rare chance to appreciate how much her work has meant to the world. At the film’s New York Film Festival premiere, Dunne said: “She had this opportunity to see the entire theater stand up and give her a 10-minute standing ovation.&nbsp; And that was the accrued interest on the love that had been building. They were friends, fans, family, everybody standing up looking at Joan in that box when the spotlight hit. People were giving it back. And so she got to see it, right in front of her face: Look what’s come my way. That was a moment I don’t think she took lightly.”” data-reactid=”61″>Dunne’s aunt is not one to dwell on her own legacy — “You’re never going to get a thing out of her on that,” he told Yahoo — but the documentary gave her a rare chance to appreciate how much her work has meant to the world. At the film’s New York Film Festival premiere, Dunne said: “She had this opportunity to see the entire theater stand up and give her a 10-minute standing ovation.  And that was the accrued interest on the love that had been building. They were friends, fans, family, everybody standing up looking at Joan in that box when the spotlight hit. People were giving it back. And so she got to see it, right in front of her face: Look what’s come my way. That was a moment I don’t think she took lightly.”

 

 

Published at Thu, 26 Oct 2017 21:06:37 +0000