If there’s anything more mesmerizing than watching a Tilda Swinton performance, it’s seeing the actress and film festival runner speak live in person. SXSW attendees in Austin got to experience Swinton in all her alluring glory yesterday during an hour-long talk, moderated by the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s newly appointed Deputy Director (and Indiewire co-founder), Eugene Hernandez.
The Q&A covered the gamut, from how Swinton found her calling as an artist after meeting a painter her father invited over, to why she signed on to play a vampire in Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive,” which is playing at the festival. But the unquestionable highlight from the talk came when Hernandez asked Swinton — who said that she makes every film as if it were her last — what cinema means to her as an art form. Her answer is below:
My guides in this inquiry are my children who are now 16 — they’re twins. They’re like lab rats really, they’re very grateful. When I first started thinking about cinema for them, I started to really examine my own desires about cinema for myself… It was really to do with the children and seeing their eyes opening. And I started thinking about why cinema is good for the soul, and what it gives us. In a nutshell, what it is for me is this amazingly humane opportunity to put yourselves in the shoes of someone else. It’s no more complicated and no less powerful than that. You go in, it all goes dark, and you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see through their eyes. That’s just mega, it’s so powerful. Even a painter, who can do it, only can do less. A painter at one time is showing you one frame, but a filmmaker can take you into an experience and an existential atmosphere that may be a trip for you. It’s like a magic carpet. This is how I feel about cinema.