While we wait with bated breath to find out if director Whit Stillman’s first film in over a decade, “Damsels in Distress,” can deliver on expectations, it would appear that the director already has his next directorial effort in mind. And for longtime fans keeping score, it's an old one that's been brewing for several years.
While doing press for his latest, which closes the Venice Film Festival this weekend, Stillman told Variety that he would still like to make the Jamaica-set “Dancing Mood.” We told you way back in 2008 that he was considering directing this drama, set within the church music scene of Kingston, Jamaica in the years 1962 to 1966, but it seemed as if he was focusing all his attention on 'Damsels' at that moment.
Stillman says that if he can’t, "set it up via traditional methods, we'll use our own resources, do the film on a small budget." Considering that he hasn’t directed a film since the Criterion-certified “Last Days of Disco” in 1998, we’re guessing that any potential financiers are probably waiting to see how Venice audiences respond to “Damsels” first. Frankly, it's been so long, we're hoping the picture, already scooped up by Sony Pictures Classics (a good sign) goes over like gangbusters. On the aforementioned Criterion disc, Stillman said work on "Dancing Mood" began during his discovery of reggae and dub during the making of 'Disco.' He called it a spiritual film, but one with fantastical elements as well, that could prove to be expensive. "So the script has angels and demons and it turns out I picked about the hardest film there is to get financed in the world," he said.
As for his latest, Stillman describes 'Damsels' as a "refined frat comedy," or “think Jane Austen meets Judd Apatow, rather than 'Porky's'." Sounds interesting enough, but coming from a director who specializes in making films centered around privileged Caucasian urbanites, we’ll have to wait and see how he handles dick jokes (or in this case jokes referring to the female anatomy).
This writer has an affinity for Stillman’s ‘90s work, which he fittingly refers to as “mumblecore with clear pronunciation" in the piece, so the fact that he has people interested at all in his films after 13 years of silence is great. We hope 'Damsels' offers up fine performances from the likes of Greta Gerwig, and that financers have enough faith to give Stillman another go, so we don’t have to wait another decade.