LYON — Tony Zierra, the director of this year’s critically acclaimed Cannes screener “Filmworker” – about Leon Vitali, who served for decades as Stanley Kubrick’s right-hand man – is working on a followup Kubrick documentary about the making of the 1999 drama “Eyes Wide Shut,” starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
Zierra was in Lyon this week for a screening of “Filmworker” at the Lumière Film Festival, where the documentary has generated massive buzz.
Speaking to Variety about his next project, “SK13,” (“Eyes Wide Shut” being Kubrick’s 13th film), Zierra explained that he was originally working on that documentary when he met Vitali and decided to put it aside and do “Filmworker” first.
Zierra is now returning to his initial project, which promises an inside look at what is arguably Kubrick’s most controversial work, due in part to the director’s death during post-production.
“The one movie that I feel is the wrinkle in Kubrick’s filmography is ‘Eyes Wide Shut.’ The people that love him always say, ‘He’s a genius, but I’m not sure what the hell that movie was about.’”
Many people “just don’t get it,” he added. “It makes no sense to them. The casting doesn’t make any sense to them. The story doesn’t make any sense to them.”
Zierra questions the way the press was handled when the film came out following Kubrick’s death, pointing out that the filmmaker meticulously controlled all aspects of his films’ releases.
The fascination that still surrounds Kubrick is evident, Zierra noted.
“There are a lot of great directors, but really to date, he is probably the only one that has that long shelf life. There’s still this mystery about all his films. People are still trying to figure out what the ending meant in ‘2001,’ what ‘The Shining’ meant, what ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ was about.”
Kubrick is a big name that draws a lot of press and attention, Zierra noted, pointing to the interest generated by “Filmworker” in Lyon.
Yet it’s also the unique story of Vitali, the fragile assistant who sacrificed his life to the master, that resonates with people, Zierra added. “There’s a push for the film because this man needs to be acknowledged.”
Zierra praised Thierry Frémaux, director of both the Lumière and Cannes Festivals, and Gerald Duchaussoy, who serves as program assistant for Cannes Classics as well as project manager at Lyon’s International Classic Film Market, for their ongoing support of the film.
“Gerald has been like a brother, he’s been really supportive in pushing the film out there,” Zierra said. “Thierry himself has been pushing for it, he’s given it coverage and press and made sure that people that are important see the film.”
About the Lumière fest, Zierra said, “There’s a huge difference between here and festivals in the U.S. Even the people here that drive you from place to place, they’re all so passionate. The festival is so organized, the people really care. They really make sure everybody gets their attention and their respect.”