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Sundance ’10 | “Blue Valentine” Director Cianfrance On the Film’s 11 Year Road

Sundance '10 | "Blue Valentine" Director Cianfrance On the Film's 11 Year Road

Filmmaker Derek Cianfrance returns to Sundance with his U.S. Dramatic Competition film, “Blue Valentine,” described as an “intimate, shattering portrait of a disintegrating marriage.” Cianfrance won the Cinematography Award (Dramatic) for “Streets of Legend” in 2003 and directed 1998’s “Brother Tied.” Cianfrance gave iW some quick comments about his film, which will have its world premiere later this month at the festival.

“Blue Valentine”
U.S. Dramatic Competition
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Screenwriter: Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne, Joey Curtis
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, John Doman, Faith Wladyka
Producer: Jamie Patricof, Lynette Howell, Alex Orlovsky
Cinematographer: Andrij Parekh
Editor: Jim Helton, Ron Patane
Music: Grizzly Bear
Production Designer: Inbal Weinberg
Coproducer: Carrie Fix
120 min., U.S.A.

Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine” is the story of the far side of a once-passionate romance, Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) are married with a young daughter. Hoping to save their marriage, they steal away to a theme hotel. They are then seen years earlier, when they met and fell in love–full of life and hope.

Moving fluidly between these two time periods, “Blue Valentine” unfolds like a cinematic duet whose refrain asks, where did their love go? Framing the film as a mystery whose answer lies scattered in time (and in character), filmmaker Derek Cianfrance constructs an elegant set of dualities: past and present, youth and adulthood, vitality and entropy. The rigor of his process is visible throughout the film. Eliminating artificial devices, he has only the truth of the characters to work with. Because Gosling and Williams bring amazing intensity and emotional honesty to their roles, the experience of connecting to these two souls becomes truly moving. [Description provided by the festival].

“Blue Valentine” director Derek Cianfrance. Image courtesy of Sundance Institute.

“When I was a child, I had two nightmares – nuclear war and my parents’ divorce,” Cianfrance told indieWIRE about his latest film. “‘Blue Valentine’ confronts the second fear.” In creating the film, Cianfrance developed a multi-pronged approach to both sides of the film’s story, and he even took a unique approach to character development during hiatus.

“I implemented a rigorous process during the preparation and making of the film – everything from writing a manifesto which laid out separate rules to filming each of the two threads of the film to living with the actors in their characters’ home during a hiatus in our production. The goal of this process was to make a film that allowed for surprises and captured fleeting moments with the performers.” Cianfrance went on to say that taking the project from idea to production was “11 years of believeing, hustling and false starts.” He added, “I thank goodness I’m so stubborn.”

Cianfrance began his interest in filmmaking when he was six years-old after steeling his brother’s tape recorder on his birthday. “[I] began using it to interview, instigate, and create stories with the people in my family,” he said. “When I was 13, I borrowed the librarian’s camcorder and began doing the same thing. By the time I went to film school I had a dozen little movies under my belt. It was my training ground.”

He has a slew of other projects in the works, including a four year production of “Meathead,” about a heavey metal drummer with tinnitus, in addition to two other scripts, “The Place Beyond the Pines” and “Nurture” that are “ready to go…”

But reflecting on “Blue Valentine,” Cianfrance concludes, “I hope [Sundance audiences] see a naked film that reflects them with honesty and courage.”

[indieWIRE invited directors with films in the Sundance U.S. Dramatic & Documentary Competitions as well as the NEXT section to submit responses in their own words about their films as profiles, which indieWIRE is publishing through the beginning of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival on January 21. To prompt the discussion, iW asked the filmmakers about what inspired their films, the challenges they faced and other general questions. They were also free to add additional topics related to their projects.]

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