If you were in your 20s in the 1990s and were even remotely interested in film, then the chances were pretty good that you were a huge fan of Whit Stillman’s hyper-verbal “Metropolitan,” and its follow-up “Barcelona.”
The director breaks a 13-year silence this spring with the release of “Damsels in Distress.” He speaks to The Guardian about his return.
Here’s the nut graf:
“Stillman, for his part, was born as an insider and appears to have been sliding south ever since. His mum was a debutante, his dad (John Sterling Stillman) worked for Kennedy, and his godfather (E Digby Baltzell) is credited with coining the “Wasp” acronym to define America’s upper-crust. Stillman worked as a journalist, then as a sales agent and finally as a film-maker. And yet, like his characters, he was destined to be confounded, undone, dashed against the rocks of hard reality. Since 1998 he has been out of the game, sat on the sidelines while his line in wry, immaculate comedies found new ambassadors in the likes of Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson. “Oh, but I like Wes Anderson,” he assures me. “The reference film would be Rushmore ahead of all the other ones. But I also liked the short that he did, Hotel Chevalier, that’s really good. It turned out that Wes was living in Paris at the same time I was. He dated one of the actresses from The Last Days of Disco.” He shrugs. “We never actually met.”
Over the past decade, Stillman has bounced between Paris and Madrid, where his youngest daughter was at school. He nurtured numerous projects that never got past the scripting stage, including a labour-of-love movie about the church music dancing scene in 1960s Jamaica. Still, no one wanted to fund it. “Producers have a tendency to put you in a pigeonhole: ‘What does this white, middle-aged preppy know about 1960s Kingston?’.” Another shrug. “I still hope to get it made.”
Read the full story here.