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Whit Stillman: “The Netflix model is terrible for filmmakers”

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Aside from presiding 55FICX Jury, Whit Stillman will receive the Festival’s Honours Award this year.
The American director appeared before the media alongside Alejandro Díaz Castaño to thank, in an impeccable Spanish, the “good treatment” received in Gijón and the recognition garnered throughout a trajectory as sporadic as it is impeccable.

Stillman, whose first film was Metropolitan (1990) is the emblem of American independent cinema, called the beginnings of his career as an inclination due to the “little hope of writing novels”, because he always wanted to be “like Scott Fitzgerald”, a tendency undoubtly present in his agile and precise dialogues. Before going all in with directing films, he worked as a journalist and an editor. One of these adventures took him to Spain, where he worked as a national cinema sales agent for American television. “It was a coincidence, I was unemployed and this project appeared”, which took him to appear in 1983 in La línea del cielo (Colomo) and Sal gorda (Trueba), an experience where he started seeing “how to make movies”. There, he’d film one decade later Barcelona (1994), his second step in a career spanning five films.

Despite the good reviews left by The Last Days of Disco (1998), Stillman went through a thirteen years long hiatus broken by Damsels in Distress (2011). “I thought about writing novels”, and then “Every time I thought I was going to make a movie I saw I had to wait for financing” so he finally decided he “had to take charge”. Then, Amor y Amistad (2016), the film which will be projected in a special session during the FICX, was successfully made thanks to his arduous determination and the appearance of Amazon, which respected his decisions and turned it into the great commercial success of his career. There another great literary presence shines, Jane Austen’s. “I wanted to help finish Lady Susan, because its original format was a epistolary novel, undramatized”, so thanks to the film he had the occasion to “take the manuscript and finish it”.

The collaboration with Amazon has found a continuation with the pilot episode in The Cosmopolitans series, a project he’ll rejoin soon. “I have been tasked with making six more episodes”, while he confessed his desire of “filming one in Madrid”. Although he confessed his great reluctance about the Netflix model, “terrible for filmmakers”, he didn’t hesitate in showing his satisfaction with the company responsible for his latest works and wished that “my films keep premiering in cinema before in any other platforms”.

Stillman declared that the “filmmakers I admire don’t usually have anything to do with the cinema I make”, although he confessed that his two great icons are “Hitchcock and Ford” and his favourite decade “the 30s”. In the future, he’d like to direct “ a historic film about the United States”, where he can introduce “humour and music” he associates with the Ford universe. “Almost all filmmakers want to make films very different from one another, but it’s hard for us”.

Sergio de Benito
Palabras clave Festival de Cine, 2017, Educación