In the Works: BEFORE AND AFTER DINNER

The director of PHYLLIS AND HAROLD turns her camera on her husband and collaborator, best known for MY DINNER WITH ANDRÉ.

After learning that his Jewish father might have collaborated with Hitler, theatre director and actor André Gregory launched an inquiry into his past, providing an entreé for director Cindy Kleine to finally make a film about her husband’s life. Weaving the story of his unusual upbringing and far-flung adventures – made famous in conversation with actor Wallace Shawn in Louis Malle’s beloved 1981 treatise on art and life – with the behind-the-scenes of Gregory and Shawn’s present-day collaboration, an adaptation of Ibsen’s MASTER BUILDER, Kleine approaches the same fundamental questions about art, artists, and the creative process as figured in the earlier film – but from her own unique and intimate position.

Kleine has reached more than one third of her ambitious Kickstarter campaign for $75,000 in post-production financing. There is still just over two weeks left for those so inclined to pitch in. Additional information on the project may be found at its website.

MY DINNER WITH ANDRE is such an unusual film – a long conversation between two men – that its iconic status – with sly pop culture references in everything from WAITING FOR GUFFMAN to THE SIMPSONS to COMMUNITY – is exceedingly bizarre. Nevertheless, the film is surprisingly riveting and has clearly left an indelible mark, helping cement both Gregory and Shawn in a large number of cinephiles’ consciousness. While Shawn is something of a schlubby Everyman, Gregory impresses as a larger than life figure, and one who probably has a lot more stories to tell, making Kleine’s documentary very welcome. Her earlier film, exposing the unexpected shadow side of her parents’ nearly 60 year marriage, demonstrated her ability to both approach the deeply personal and to expertly balance the past and the present in her storytelling. The promised twists and turns of Gregory’s story, as well as access to his creative process, make this a much-anticipated project.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, In the Works

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