Joan writes in order to live.
~ Griffin Dunne
A documentary about the remarkable writer Joan Didion (b. 1934), We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live, has been successfully funded at Kickstarter, though fundraising continues through November 21. A project by directors Griffin Dunne (Didion is his aunt) and Susanne Rostock, the film will tell Didion's life story through the writer's work and in her own voice. Family, friends, colleagues, actors, and critics, including Patti Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Graydon Carter, and Bret Easton Ellis, are among those who will be interviewed, and archival footage will enrich how the film relates Didion's personal life and family history. To date, Didion's life has never before been documented on film.
The buzz about the documentary — news of its production has been picked up far and wide — and its full funding within a day of the project's launch on Kickstarter attest to interest in the documentary's subject and promise what may be unprecedented attention when it is completed and released.
Here's a preliminary look at what the directors and producers Annabelle Dunn and Mary Recine have in mind:
I was in college when I first began reading Didion's prolific and memorable work — it encompasses everything from political reporting to criticism, personal essays to playwrighting, novels to screenwriting — and I continue to read whatever she produces. Among her well-known books are the meditation Blue Nights (Vintage, reprint 2012), the memoir The Year of Magical Thinking (Vintage, reprint 2007), collected nonfiction in We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live (Everyman's Library, 2006), the essays Sloughing Toward Bethlehem (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, reissue 2008), Where I Was From (Vintage, reprint, 2004), the novel A Book of Common Prayer (Vintage, repring, 1995), the nonfiction collection The White Album (1979; Farrar, Straus & Giroux, FSG Classics 2009), the novel Play It As It Lays (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2nd edition 2005), Miami (Vintage, 1st international edition 1998), After Henry (Vintage, 1st international edition 1993), Democracy (Vintage, reprint 1995), the novel The Last Thing He Wanted (Vintage, reprint 1997), and Salvador (Vintage, reprint 1994). Her first novel was Run River (Vintage, 1994). All these books are still in print.
In 2012, Didion was awarded a National Humanities Medal.
Joan Didion on FaceBook
Resources Worth Reading
Jonathan Van Meter, "When Everything Changes", New York Magazine
Megan O'Rourke, "Quintana's Story", Slate, November 2011
Boris Kachka, "'I Was No Longer Afraid to Die. I Was Now Afraid Not to Die.'", New York Magazine, October 16, 2011
Gibson Fay-Leblanc, "Seeing Things Straight" (Interview), Guernica, April 15, 2006
Robert Pinsky, "The Year of Magical Thinking: Goodbye to All That", The New York Times, October 9, 2005
Martin Amis, "Joan Didion's Style", London Review of Books, Vol. 2, No. 2, February 7, 1980
Linda Kuehl, "Joan Didion, The Art of Fiction No. 71", The Paris Review, Fall-Winter 1978, No. 74