Now in its third year, the Athena Film Festival, a celebration of women and leadership held at Barnard College in New York, is an engaging weekend of feature films, documentaries and shorts that highlight women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world. Co-chaired by producer Debra Martin Chase, filmmaker Mira Nair, actress Greta Gerwig and writer/director Diablo Cody, among others, the four-day festival, which has quickly established itself as one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind, includes conversations with directors and Hollywood stars, and workshops for filmmakers.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, Cody talked about what sets the Athena Film Festival apart from other film festivals, why she wanted to get involved, the female writers and directors that she admires, and what it means to her when young women or aspiring filmmakers tell her that she’s inspired them. She also talked about why she decided to make her directorial debut with Paradise (she’s 99% sure that’s the title now) and what made Julianne Hough her leading lady, and said she was still working on the Sweet Valley High movie (based on the books by Francine Pascal), that it’s a musical with songs written by Tony Award winners Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, and how she saw that project as a great opportunity to tell those stories and appeal to the people who grew up with them, but also subvert them and make it really funny. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
Now playing in limited release is director Jason Reitman’s (Up in the Air) great new movie, Young Adult. Written by Diablo Cody (Juno), the film centers on an alcoholic young adult novelist (Charlize Theron) who ventures back to her hometown in order to pursue her now-married high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson). Patton Oswalt co-stars as Theron’s former classmate. While Young Adult could have easily taken the familiar steps of “bad person goes home and turns everything around”, I’m happy to report Reitman and Cody have crafted a unique movie that should not be missed. It’s definitely one of my favorites of the year and I’m pretty sure Theron is going to get a nomination for her portrayal of Mavis Gary. Watch the trailer here and some clips here.
Anyway, I recently got to speak with Cody in New York City. During the interview she talked about the way she writes, how the idea for Young Adult came about, her karaoke song, what she’s learned about Hollywood over the past few years, and her relationship with Jason Reitman. In addition, with Cody having worked on the remake of Evil Dead, she talked about what her work on the project entailed and calls the script “unbelievably violent.” Finally, I got an update on her directorial debut and a script that’s so autobiographical and personal that she wants to wait ten years before it’s produced. Hit the jump to read or watch the interview.
I maintain that “Jennifer’s Body” wasn’t the fault of screenwriter Diablo Cody but rather a mismatch between Cody and director Karyn Kusama where it seemed like one wanted to make an ode-to-”Heathers” and the other wanted to make a straight horror flick. Sadly, because of the dominance of socially-retarded males on the Internet*, people dance on her failure and pretend like this is the end of the Oscar-winning screenwriter.
As if. Cody’s adapting the long-running teenage-girl book series, “Sweet Valley High”. Hit the jump to learn more about why this is a great match.