We like silver linings, right?
No, not the Playbook. Actual silver linings to very dark clouds. In this case, one of the positive side effects to the unfortunate restrictions placed on fall film festivals is the opening of the material and screenings to film lovers around the country. In many cases, people who would not have been able to actually attend festivals have chances to share in the content online. In this regard, the pandemic became this great equalizer for lovers of quality cinema.
For those who were lucky enough to score tickets, of course.
But look closely at festival lineups, and you’ll find much more than independent film premieres. They’re also still offering tributes and Q&As traditionally reserved for in-person attendees. The Hamptons International Film Festival currently offers several opportunities to watch pre-recorded sessions with actors and filmmakers talking about their craft.
I had the pleasure of watching three new Q&As from HIFF featuring Kate Winslet (Ammonite), Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami…), and Steven Yeun (Minari). You have the opportunity to catch up on them now through October 14 at HamptonsFilmFest.org. They’re each enlightening and fun conversations for anyone taken with the art of film.
Here are a few highlights of the revelations included within each Q&A session.
Ammonite‘s Kate Winslet talks with Variety’s Jenelle Riley about navigating the tricky waters (pun intended) of her career following her career-making turn in Titanic. Winslet attributes her longevity to taking the time to grow as an actress following the Oscar-winning film by taking smaller films.
Winslet also credits the lack of social media at the time to helping her maintain her sanity. “There was no social media. I mean, I was being bullied by the British media. That was happening. But it’s also fish and chip paper. It’s then gone. It doesn’t have a life the next day,” she reveals.
She also dives into her extensive preparation for her fantastic performance in Francis Lee’s Ammonite and reveals that she shares the drive for deep research with the director. Winslet worked on the same shores in which her character Mary Anning dug for fossils. She also talks about planning the emotional beats of the love story with co-star Soarise Ronin.
Leslie Odom, Jr.
One Night in Miami… star Leslie Odom, Jr. reveals to playwright Matthew López (The Inheritance) that he “get arrested in my first decade in film.” That all changes with his performance in Regina King’s Miami. His work with the film stems all the way back to the original play where he received offers to be a part of multiple productions but was never available to commit. During the conversation, he reveals more about his path to the film despite initial hesitancy to take the role of Sam Cooke.
Odom, Jr. goes on to describe his affection and deep-seeded respect for Cooke. “We don’t get Aretha Franklin without Sam Cooke. We don’t get Marvin Gaye without Same Cooke. He really was the blueprint for so many of the greats after him,” he shares. He talks further about listening to Cooke’s discography with a new ear and about working with a dialect coach – a challenge given the lack of Black dialect coaches – to perfect Cooke’s intonations.
One of the more surprising revelations of the Q&A session involves Odom, Jr.’s revelation that Kingsley Ben-Adir – so brilliant as Malcolm X – was hot in contention for the totally different role of Cassius Clay which eventually went to Eli Goree. It also goes without saying that he also praises director Regina King’s talents as a working actress now behind the camera in Miami.
Minari executive producer and star Steven Yeun engages in a detailed conversation with Indiewire’s Eric Kohn about the acclaimed film, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Kohn starts his conversation with Yeun about his diverse background. Yeun was born in Seoul, South Korea, but moved to Canada before settling in Troy, Michigan. Kohn dives into when the passion for acting stirred within Yeun during that broad array of change and how Yeun’s Korean-American background factored into his acting choices.
Prior to Minari, Yeun was best known for his iconic role as Glenn Rhee on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Yeun and Kohn talk about how that experience changed and molded both Yeun’s personal life and professional career. They also discuss Yeun’s path into feature films following the end of his run on the zombie drama.
Finally, Yeun talks about overcoming his wariness of what he calls “identity films” of the Asian-American experience with writer/director Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari. “When I read the script, it was such an insular, truthful, human look at the experience I remember,” Yeun says. “It felt so honest, and it felt like it wasn’t spending a lot of time explaining itself to the audience. When I read it, I thought, ‘This is incredible.'”