A Few New Details On Whit Stillman's 'Damsels In Distress'

by Kevin Jagernauth
November 17, 2010 4:02 AM
6 Comments
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Chris Eigeman Might Cameo; Stillman Currently On Sixth Draft Of Jamaican Music Pic 'Dancing Mood'



So yes, Whit Stillman is currently at work on his first film in over a decade, "Damsels In Distress," and we really couldn't be more excited. It's a voice that has been absent far too long from the filmmaking scene and we're glad he'll be returning.

The film stars Greta Gerwig and Adam Brody and features an ambitious concept. The pic centers on "a group of style-obsessed college girls who take in a new student and teach her their misguided ways of helping people" and they are "convinced that musical dance, sharp clothes and good hygiene — the Dior perfume 'Diorissimo' is their trademark — can all contribute to staving off the inevitable self-destructive impulses that follow hard on the heels of failed college romances." That already sounds pretty ambitious, but in a new and very in-depth profile on the director, he spills a few more details on the project.

In addition to the girls being musical dance enthusiasts, some of them will "suffer from nasal-shock syndrome at the faintest sniff of B.O." perhaps making that Dior perfume all the more valuable. And for those of you missing Stillman regular Chris Eigeman from your life, there is "a possibility of a cameo appearance" by the actor in the film. However, don't expect the picture to be a continuation of the trilogy of pics "Metropolitan," "Barcelona," and "The Last Days of Disco." “This film is different,” Stillman says. “Completely different. Okay, not completely different, but it’s different.”

So where has Stillman been all this time? Following "The Last Days Of Disco," Stillman reveals that his "trunk" of movie ideas and scripts was completely empty. “After I finished 'Disco,' I had no trunk,” he says. “Since then, I have been recreating my trunk.”

And certainly, that trunk is now full. Among the numerous projects that he has been attached to over the years are an adaptation of Christopher Buckley’s novel "Little Green Men" (which he eventually abandoned), a biography of American Revolutionary War officer Francis Marion called "The Swamp Fox," and a film of Anchee Min’s "Red Azalea" (for which he turned in an ill-timed script on September 12, 2001). He even shot a commercial for a chocolate company in Jakarta in 2007 but didn't think much of the experience saying, “I wasn’t that keen on the final thing,” he says, “but I got to do a director’s cut.” And he even tried to get financing from London investment firms but seems to have been caught up in a quagmire of red tape, “You would call it development hell,” he says, “or what I would call development heck.”

However, one project we are definitely curious about is "Dancing Mood," his Jamaican music-influenced film. He reveals he's currently on the sixth draft of the script, and has done extensive research for the project traveling "back and forth from that island country and [reading] every Jamaican newspaper he could find from 1958 to 1970." It sounds fascinating and it's certainly one we'd like to see freed from the trunk and brought to the screen.

It's certainly been a long road for Stillman to get back behind the camera, but we're definitely eager to see what he has in store. The project has been independently financed by Martin Shafer, the CEO of Castle Rock, but currently doesn't have a distributor. Is it too much to expect it to be ready for Sundance? Here's hoping we don't have to wait to too long see "Damsels In Distress."

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6 Comments

  • Kristina W | December 28, 2010 6:03 AMReply

    My cousin is in this movie! I'm so proud of him :)

  • Clementine | November 19, 2010 7:22 AMReply

    A Whit Stillman without Chris Eigeman? I don't want to see one without the other, do you? No! No one does. If only in the briefest of cameos it would still make me cinematically happy.
    Shall the girls be Hampshire grads? Top of my list of most anticipated films.

  • Stephen | November 18, 2010 3:16 AMReply

    Stillman is one of my favorite directors and so underrated. Metropolitan and Last Days of Disco did both get released by Criterion semi-recently, and there was some talk of them eventually releasing Barcelona, too, but people still seem mostly ignorant of his work.

    I just discovered him about six months ago, though, so that's got to count for something. People still discover him, even if they missed his stuff the first time around.

  • zxcvb | November 18, 2010 3:13 AMReply

    Stillman is probably the person least excited about this. All of his dream projects were shot down and now the only one the Money will let him make is another class-conscious dramedy about bourgeois young adults in love.

  • Stephen B | November 17, 2010 7:48 AMReply

    Awesome. Would love to see his "Swamp Fox" movie, especially since "The Patriot" fucked up that story royally.

  • BradZuhl | November 17, 2010 5:17 AMReply

    Great to hear that we'll be getting more Whit Stillman in the near future. Maybe now that the idea trunk is full we'll have a quick brace of films from him.

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