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Director confirms original stars will return for ‘Call Me By Your Name’ sequel

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Image courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

As if we didn’t have enough reason to look forward to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, news from “Call Me By Your Name” director Luca Guadagnino has delivered us a much-needed ray of hope for the future.

In an interview with Italian newspaper LaRepubblica, the acclaimed filmmaker seems to have confirmed that the planned sequel to the Oscar-winning 2017 coming-of-age movie will reunite stars Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, along with others from the cast of the original film.

An adaptation of André Aciman’s novel of the same name, “Call Me By Your Name” instantly became an essential “must-see” pillar of the LGBTQ cinematic canon with its bittersweet, nostalgic tale of a romance between a teen boy named Elio and his father’s research assistant, Oliver. Set during a pre-AIDS era summer in the Italian countryside, the film garnered much acclaim and multiple awards, catapulting Chalamet to the top of Hollywood’s “A-list” and revitalizing the career of co-star Hammer. In addition, it earned much-deserved recognition for its producer and screenwriter, veteran filmmaker James Ivory, from a new generation of film buffs.

In the wake of the film’s success, original author Aciman released “Find Me,” a sequel novel set ten years later and placing more focus on the character of Elio’s father, Sami. The story continues for an additional decade from there. Guadagnino has previously suggested that his film sequel would be set “just a few years” after the original, and would explore the AIDS crisis in Berlin in 1989, veering from the direction taken by Aciman in “Find Me.”

Whether that plot diversion will remain in place is still unclear; in the Italian interview, the director revealed that, though he has someone in mind to pen the screenplay for the new film, a scheduled meeting in the US to discuss the project with that writer – whose identity he is keeping quiet, for the time being – was cancelled, likely over concerns about the coronavirus crisis.

Still, Guadagnino had good news to share.

“It is a pleasure to work again with Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Esther Garrel, and the other actors,” the filmmaker said. “They will all be in the new film.”

Stuhlbarg earned an Oscar nod in “Call Me By Your Name” for his supporting role as Sami; Garrel portrayed Marzia, the teen girl with whom Elio also has a romance.

The two lead actors have been included in discussion of the follow-up film since it was first announced shortly after the original’s success. Initially, both were gung-ho about their potential involvement, with Chalamet saying in 2018 that they were both “1000 per cent in.” However, in a 2019 interview with Vulture, Hammer expressed reservations.
 
“It felt like a really perfect storm of so many things, that if we do make a second one, I think we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment,” the actor said. Nevertheless, he went on to add, “If we end up with an incredible script, and Timmy’s in, and Luca’s in, I’d be an asshole to say no.”

Guadagnino’s announcement would seem to indicate that the actor has been sufficiently persuaded, and though there has been no official confirmation yet from any of the actors mentioned by name, those of us who fell in love with Elio and Oliver – and the two Hollywood heartthrobs who played them – can now hold on to the hope that we will all get a chance to follow their further journey in a brighter, post-pandemic world to come.

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Movies

Civil rights film fest celebrates transmasculine activist

March on Washington Film Festival runs Sept. 30-Oct. 4

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AFI Docs, gay news, Washington Blade
Pauli Murray (Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)

“I chose as my senior paper, ‘Should Plessy vs. Ferguson be Overruled?’ My little argument went to the Supreme Court,” said influential queer civil rights activist Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray in a powerful documentary featured in the 2021 March on Washington Film Festival.

The annual D.C. film festival runs Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 and features both in-person and virtual events, including a commemoration of Murray, a transmasculine activist often overlooked in history textbooks.

“Our mission is to tell the mistold and untold stories of the people who motivated and moved the civil rights movement,” said Artistic Director Isisara Bey, a longtime LGBTQ ally who has been with the film festival for eight of its nine years.

Murray was a poet, activist and legal scholar whose writings were the underpinnings of decisions by late Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Thurgood Marshall.

“A film festival like this is extremely important because none of us leads lives outside of a historical, cultural, political and spiritual framework,” Bey said, noting Murray was the first African-American woman ordained as an Episcopal priest.

The film festival, founded in 2013 in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, uses film screenings and panel discussions to educate audiences about civil rights pioneers and raise awareness on pressing current issues, such as environmental justice.

This year’s festival commemorates Murray’s legacy at an in-person event at the Eaton Hotel (1201 K St., N.W.) on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m., which includes presentations and a dramatic reading of Murray’s speech to the National Council of Negro Women on Nov. 13, 1963.

Virtually, more than 20 films will be available on demand beginning Sept. 24, including “Flint: The Poisoning of an American City” about the city’s water crisis; “End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock” documenting the indigenous women who fought against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline; and “To the Plate,” a short film about a lesbian restauranteur and her girlfriend who struggle to keep their business open in the face of anti-Asian hate.

Robert Raben, the festival’s gay co-founder, told the Washington Blade the LGBTQ community should come out and support the festival because the civil rights and gay liberation movements were “intertwined.”

“The gay civil rights movement relied enormously on the methods of the African-American civil rights movement,” he said. “You can’t have a gay liberation movement without a civil rights movement. And the number of gay people involved in the civil rights movement was pretty high.”

Raben told the Blade this “lost” history, including that of Murray, is empowering to learn, particularly for LGBTQ youth of color.

“Stories of gay people need to be focused on history because it inspires our young to make change in an intersectional way.”

Raben called the festival, which also includes panel discussions, music, art and dance, an “uncensored” platform for sharing an “honest picture” of historical events.

“Textbooks have never told the truth with regard to Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and African Americans,” he said. “Attacks on ‘critical race theory’ is just a latest effort to restrict what we learn about history. The strength of the festival is we’re giving people stories that they suspected were out there.”

Ticket prices include an all-access pass for $149, a virtual film pass for $79, a discounted pass for students and educators at $19, and an option to pay what you can to attend virtual festival events.  

Attendees for in-person events must present proof of vaccination at check-in, wear masks during events and utilize socially distant seating.

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Photos

PHOTOS: DC Frontrunners 40th anniversary

Awards ceremony and party held at Jack Rose Dining Saloon

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(Blade photo by Michael Key)

The LGBTQ+ and allies running, walking, and social club DC Frontrunners held its 40th anniversary celebration and awards ceremony at Jack Rose Dining Saloon on Saturday.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Theater

‘Doña Rosita’ marks reunion of three Spaniards at GALA

An excellent cast and dynamic staging elevate stellar production

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Ariel Texidó and Mabel del Pozo in Doña Rosita la soltera. (Photo by Daniel Martínez)

Doña Rosita la soltera
Through Oct. 3
GALA Hispanic Theatre
3333 14th Street, NW
$35-$48
galatheatre.org

In the 1930s, Federico García Lorca, 20th century Spain’s greatest poet and dramatist, was writing plays about a woman’s place in the world. In fact, Lorca, who was gay, was exploring women’s souls in an unprecedented way for Spain, or anywhere really. His insight is frequently credited, in part, to his sexuality.  

Now at GALA Hispanic Theatre, Lorca’s “Doña Rosita la soltera (Doña Rosita the Spinster)” tells the story of Rosita, an unmarried woman who subsists on definite hopes of marrying a long-distance fiancé. Whether it’s to keep the populace at bay or to feed a romantic fantasy, isn’t completely clear, but years — decades, in fact — pass, and very little changes. 

Set in the conservative world of middle-class Granada (Lorca’s native province), the 100-minute play, performed in Spanish with English surtitles, spans the 1880s through the early 1900s, constrictive years for women in Spain. When Lorca wrote “Doña Rosita” in 1935, on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, he appreciated the recent gains made surrounding women’s rights and foresaw further, imminent progress. Then, just a year later at age 38 and at the top of his game, Lorca was unlawfully arrested and murdered by Franco’s rightwing thugs. All was lost. 

Adapted by out writer Nando López, GALA’s offering strays from Lorca’s original in various ways: there are fewer characters, and the older Rosita serves more as a narrator, interacting with her younger self. Lorca’s glorious poetry remains mostly intact. 

Still, the title character’s tale is clear: Orphaned as a child, Rosita (Mabel del Pozo) goes to live with her devoted aunt (Luz Nicolás) and uncle (Ariel Texidó), an avid gardener. As a young woman, she falls in love with her first cousin (also played by Texidó), and they’re engaged. Despite the fiancé leaving Spain to join his aging parents on their sizeable farm in Tucumán, Argentina, the young lovers remain betrothed. 

Domestic life goes on. With the support of relations, and the family’s devoted but skeptical housekeeper (Laura Alemán), Rosita assembles a first-rate trousseau, and the affianced pair continue to exchange heartfelt letters. At one point, there’s talk of marriage by proxy – an idea scoffed at by some of the household and neighbors. 

The sameness of the unchanging household is offset by out director José Luis Arellano’s dynamic staging, an excellent cast, actors nimbly changing characters onstage with the help of a hat or cravat fished out of a chest of drawers, Jesús Díaz Cortés’ vibrant lighting, and incidental music from David Peralto and Alberto Granados. Alemán, so good as the shrewd housekeeper from the country (a place Lorca respected) also assays a spinster who comes to tea. And Catherine Nunez characterizes feminine youth, scornful of Rosita’s unattached status. Delbis Cardona is versatile as the worker and Don Martin, a teacher charged with educating the ungrateful offspring of Granada’s rich. 

After a rare outdoor excursion to the circus, Rosita wrongly claims to have seen her would-be groom working with the troupe, but the housekeeper is quick to point out that the well-built puppeteer is by no means her stoop-shouldered barefoot fiancé, adding that more and more Rosita is seeing her faraway love in the face of the men about Granada. Swiftly, the aunt reminds the housekeeper to know her place – she’s allowed to speak, but not bark.

Visually, the passage of time is indicated by the hemline and cut of Rosita’s dresses (designed by Silvia de Marta), and the mid-play dismantling of the set (also de Marta), opening the family’s rooms and garden to what lies beyond. 

After intermission, six more years have passed and the narrative is more straightforward and patently compelling. Rosita’s aunt, now a pissed-off, generally miserable widow in reduced circumstances, is packing up to move. It’s been hard running a house, she says. And it’s harder scrubbing the floors, replies the faithful housekeeper. 

And it’s here that del Pozo shines with Rosita’s revelatory monologue, a searingly true, passionately delivered speech worth the price of a ticket. 

“Doña Rosita” marks a collaborative reunion of three Spaniards – writer López, director Arellano, and actor del Pozo – who all worked on GALA’s 2015, multi-Helen Hayes Award-winning production of Lorca’s politically controversial “Yerma,” the story of another complicated Spanish woman. 

GALA Hispanic Theatre safety policy

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