AWFJ MEMBER NEWS, April 2024 – Wendy Mitchell reports

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists brings together some of the world’s leading female film critics, writers and journalists, and we’re always amazed at the scope and breadth of our colleagues’ creative talents and achievements. Our Member News column spotlights these amazing women and their latest achievements in their professional and personal lives. Help us celebrate our members’ latest successes and milestones.

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Annette Bening on Preparation for NYAD – Wendy Mitchell interviews

Annette Bening can still hardly believe she has been on the heightened emotional and physical journey playing the long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad. “I never in my wildest imagination ever imagined doing something like this. Especially in my 60s!” she says with a hearty laugh. “So that’s what was also very enticing about it.” When Bening first read the script, adapted from Diana Nyad’s memoir Find A Way, she remembers, “I was moved and I laughed, I was furious at her, but I loved her. I found her funny. I found her exasperating. I found the story just ultimately so inspiring because it’s so surprising. As a character she was outrageous and I knew I wanted to play her. Bening certainly questioned herself as she trained for a year in the pool, not just to get into the right shape to walk around in a swimsuit for most of the film but also to make sure she had the precise strokes and breathing patterns of a seasoned swimmer — even the same breathing to the left that Nyad had to do to see her coach Bonnie Stoll (played by Jodie Foster) on the boat.

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Celine Song on PAST LIVES: Switching from Theater to Film – Wendy Mitchell Interviews

Celine Song’s first day of shooting her debut feature was not the warmest welcome to her new career. The experienced playwright and theatre director was shooting a boat scene, cruising past the Statue of Liberty forPast Lives, but there was a record-setting storm in New York City. “I’ve never been on a film set before, and I show up on this set and it’s raining so hard you can’t see in front of your face,” Song says. “We’d had this really productive prep and we were feeling very prepared.” But they had not quite envisaged a storm of epic proportions. The crew and producers assured her it would clear — and, she reveals, “It did clear up and it was amazing.”

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About Wendy Mitchell

Wendy Mitchell is a journalist, moderator and film festival consultant. She is a contributing editor and Nordic correspondent at Screen International, the producer of the Sundance Film Festival: London, the UK and Nordic delegate for San Sebastian. She is also a regular moderator at Berlin’s EFM and Cannes Marche. Her books include Iceland on Screen and Citizen Canine: Dogs in the Movies and her podcast is Adventures in Producing.

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