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“Consideration of Our Own Mortality Provides Our Work With Urgency and Focus” | Phyllis Nagy, Call Jane

Still from Call JaneElizabeth Banks, Chris Messina, Grace Edwards, and Bianca D'Ambrosio in Call Jane by Phyllis Nagy. (Photo: Wilson Webb)

The last two years have prompted much contemplation and reconsideration of the reasons why we make our films as well as the ways in which we make them. What aspect of your filmmaking—whether in your creative process, the way you finance your films, your production methodology or the way you relate to your audience—did you have to reinvent in order to make and complete the film you are bringing to the festival this year?

The pandemic served as a potent reminder that a consideration of our own mortality provides our work with urgency and focus—and with a decidedly necessary dark sense of humor. This was always in the forefront of my thinking while I lived in Europe, where there is generally a different attitude culturally about these things, but which was oddly pushed to one side when I returned to the U.S., and particularly when I settled in Los Angeles. It’s a city in which human beings want to do anything they can to forestall a reckoning with one’s own fragility, physically and emotionally. So I am strangely grateful that making Call Jane in the midst of the pandemic allowed me to channel that emotional reckoning with my own mortality into our film’s DNA.

See all responses to our annual Sundance Question here.

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