Sunday, September 03, 2023

A Tribute to Yorgos Lanthimos (Telluride Film Festival 2023)

Yorgos Lanthimos. Telluride Film Festival 2023.

Made possible by a donation from the Burns Family.
Werner Herzog Theater, Telluride Film Festival (TFF), 2 Sep 2023-
Opened by Julia Huntsinger who remarked among other things that "sex is back" in the cinema.

David Fear (TFF 2023): " When the Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos was preparing THE FAVOURITE, his Oscar-winning period piece about a politicized love triangle in Queen Anne’s court, he put his cast through a series of tests. They would read their lines while holding hands in a circle and moving around the room, getting tangled up in each other’s limbs. Dialogue would be read as if they were experiencing labor pains, or as if invisible force fields pushed in on the performers. Occasionally, his trio of A-list movie stars would find themselves engaging in melodramatic exchanges while jumping from one tile of carpet to the next, or rolling around on the floor. "

" “It resembled nothing of what we actually shot,” Emma Stone noted when THE FAVOURITE played at Telluride in 2018. “[But] it was a very interesting way to learn that we were safe with each other, we could rely on each other, and we knew what we were saying when we started to shoot.” "

" It’s that combination of the playfully free-spirited, the primal and the purely WTF that has made Lanthimos the sort of celebrated international filmmaker that most of us associate with the glory days of foreign-language cineastes, while also earmarking him as a behind-the-camera collaborator du jour for actors like Stone, Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman, Nicole Kidman and many more. His 2009 breakthrough film DOGTOOTH—about parents who imprison their now-adult children via an elaborate fictional worldview—put him on the proverbial arthousecinema map, and since, his mix of absurdist and disturbing has captivated audiences in search of something completely different. "

" Yet Lanthimos never forgets the human element behind his outré storylines and who-dosed-my-drink visual aesthetic. For example, could anyone else have turned THE LOBSTER (2015), a dystopian tale of people turning into animals if they don’t find their soul mates, into both an existential black comedy and a heartbreaking love story? THE FAVOURITE, which was filled with anachronisms and oddities, could have been too Masterpiece Theater straight or too Monty Python silly in someone else’s hands. Lanthimos crafted the exact mix of broad, ironic and brutal that this satire needed to work. "

" He’s now reunited with his FAVOURITE screenwriter Tony McNamara and star Emma Stone for POOR THINGS, an adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s novel that puts a feminist spin on the Frankenstein myth, with stylistic flourishes that draw from steampunk and Universal monster movies. It’s singular and provocative. "

" “[The word] provocative … I used to be defensive about it,” he told an interviewer once, in regards to the descriptive that gets slapped on his work. “But in the end, I realized it’s exactly right. It’s what we’re trying to do—to provoke thought and discussion and, you know, shake people up to start thinking about things in a different way.” " –David Fear (TFF 2023)

" A selection of clips will be followed by the presentation of the Silver Medallion, an on-stage interview and a screening of POOR THINGS shown in its entirety. " (TFF 2023)


The conversation was conducted in English.

The Yorgos Lanthimos TFF 50 Silver Medaillon Tribute clip reel covered:
- Kinetta
- Kynodontas / Dogtooth
- Alpeis / Alps
- The Lobster
- The Killing of a Sacred Deer - and
- The Favourite.

In the Q&A Lanthimos told about his Werdegang, starting with commercials, learning his craft in them, and then making small budget personal films in Greece, until switching to England and English-language films. In Greece, he focused on basketball and music first. There was hardly any film industry, but at the film school and in art cinemas Lanthimos discovered great film-makers such as Godard, Tarkovsky and Cassavetes and Bresson. Having been elevated to big budget films he finds out that the situation is still the same: no matter how much money there is, it is never enough. Lanthimos feels the desire to return to simplicity. On set, he tries to create a relaxed atmosphere and avoids explaining to actors. What it is about he is never able to express. Trying to explain would ruin the magic. 

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