Interview: Director Bart Freundlich talks Sundance Film Festival, gender swaps, and directing wife Julianne Moore
By Camilla Allen · 21.06.2019

To mark yet another exciting year at Sundance Film Festival: London at Picturehouse Central, we touch base with Bart Freundlich, director of After The Wedding. He talks gender swaps, upcoming projects, and what it was like to direct his wife, Julianne Moore.

Earlier this month, our client Picturehouse Cinemas invited us to witness everything the annual four-day festival from Utah had to offer. Showcasing the best in indie cinema since the festival began in 1978, it’s been a place for emerging directors to bring something daring to the screen.

Amidst the lights, cameras, and action, we spoke to Bart about his twist-filled drama starring Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams. The film is based on Susanne Bier’s 2006 Danish film, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, and sees family dynamics play out when a woman attends the wedding of a wealthy benfactor’s daughter in the hope of getting funding for her Indian orphanage.

After The Wedding - Director Bart Freundlich
Bart Freundlich, director of After The Wedding, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

How does it feel to finally see your work on the big screen at Sundance Film Festival?

Fantastic. It’s a great feeling to see something you’ve spent months working on finally reach completion. The directing process can be a long and difficult one, but getting positive feedback from people who have enjoyed the film certainly makes it all worthwhile.

Livia Firth, Director Bart Freundlich and Colin Firth
Livia Firth, Director Bart Freundlich and Colin Firth pose for the After The Wedding photocall during The Sundance 2019 Film Festival London on 2nd June 2019

The film is headed up by two strong female characters. Why did you choose to switch up the genders of the leading roles from the original? 

Sussanne bier’s original film is great – it has so much emotional complexity and it’s full of interesting character dynamics. She did it really well the first time, so I saw no reason to simply make it again. When the producer who owned the rights to the project came to me with the project, I began to think a lot about what we could do to reinvent it but still have the magic of that story. It took about a year of working with it to figure out how I was going to make this a worthwhile adaptation.

Julianne Moore delivers a very raw, emotional performance. What made you cast your wife for the role?

Julianne and I watched the movie together and her attention was captured by one of the emotionally charged scenes with one of the actors played by a man and she was like, “That’s the role I’d like to play!”. As I then figured out what it would do to the plot, what necessary changes would have to be made, I realised that changing the genders of the two leading roles was going to be the answer to the reinvention. Not only did it change the genders, but it changed a lot of the narrative. 

What’s your relationship like on set?

For me, first and foremost, there is no one I’d rather work with. She’s just the best at what she does. This is my fourth time working with Jullianne. We met on my first movie, which was in 1997; The Myth Of Fingeprints, which was also a Sundance movie. We had two other movies with her but I haven’t worked with her for about ten years. She is very specific about the roles she takes. They either speak to her or they don’t speak to her. This one spoke to her because I think she wants to feel like there’s something in a character that she hasn’t explored before, and there was something in this character that really was of interest to her.

How did you endeavor to maintain the film’s integrity so that it didn’t feel over the top or far-fetched?

I had to think about it very carefully. I enjoyed injecting humour into scenes to keep it real.  

Do you have any exciting new projects in the pipeline?

Currently, I’m working on my next screenplay. It is something that I’ve been writing for years and have been revisiting for some time. It’s a very personal project and close to my heart, based on some writings of my father – a writer, poet and book editor. His writing has been a big inspiration in my life and work, so I’m excited about this next project coming together.

After The Wedding was screened at this year’s Sundance London event and will be released on 9 Aug 2019 by Sonny Pictures Classics.

Interview: Director Bart Freundlich talks Sundance Film Festival, gender swaps, and directing wife Julianne Moore
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