Whit Stillman Retrospective
Academy award nominee Whit Stillman is known for making films that comment on the irony oft found in relationships and social circles. Raised by parents from upper class backgrounds, Stillman is often inspired by his own life experiences.
After taking a nearly 14 year hiatus from film making, the director and screenwriter is finally making his Hollywood comeback. Hitting screens on April 27th, Whit’s new film, Damsels in Distress, is his highly anticipated return to moviemaking. To celebrate this comeback we’ve taken a look at Whit Stillman’s small but nonetheless impressive oeuvre.
Metropolitan is Stillman’s most celebrated film to date. Taking place in New York City’s wealthy Upper East Side, Metropolitan is a comedy/drama following a middle-class young man as he attempts to manoeuvre his way through Manhattan’s season of elite debutante balls, and the social scene that comes with such extravaganza. Stillman sold his own apartment and had to rely on contributions from family and friends to fund the film. But the risk paid off for Stillman – Metropolitan won much acclaim and his original screenplay earned him an Academy Award nomination.
Stillman’s first studio funded film, Barcelona, follows the lives of two cousins, Ted and Fred, who are unexpectedly reunited in Barcelona. American naval officer Fred is sent to Spain on military business and finds himself reacquainted with his cousin. Audiences follow the relatives as they learn about romance, culture, and friendship in the Spanish city. Although the duo learns that lusting over beauty can get you in trouble, Stillman himself met his future wife while living in Barcelona – The film’s outlook on living and loving in Spain is in part based on Whit’s experience there.
The final film Whit completed before his 14 year hiatus was 1998’s The Last Days of Disco. Hollywood favourites Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale star as two book editors making their way through love and life in Manhattan’s discos. The film was inspired by Stillman’s own experiences on the New York club scene. The Last Days of Disco also includes hidden references and character crossovers with Stillman’s other famous films Metropolitan and Barcelona.