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Passion for Acting and Thirst for Challenges Keep Anna Paquin Going

Anna Paquin, who came to the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival to present indie film “The Parting Glass,” which she acts in and also produced, dropped by the Variety Critics Corner to discuss her latest project and her career with film critic Peter Debruge.

The actress, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress at age 11 for Jane Campion’s 1993 film “The Piano,” said she has been following her passion for storytelling ever since. Her career arc has embraced such diverse projects as “Almost Famous,” three X-Men movies, and 81 episodes of HBO’s “True Blood.”

It was “The Piano,” which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes, that launched Paquin’s connection to film festivals. She recognizes how critical they are for promoting films such as “Glass,” a dark story about a family coming together in the wake of the suicide of one of the siblings. It was written by Denis O’Hare, who also stars, based on personal experience. Paquin plays the late sister. She described it as “a challenging, dark, strangely uplifting and humorous at times family drama.”

“Glass” also enters the scene at a time when suicide is top of mind with the public. “We always wanted this to be part of the de-stigmatization and discussion of mental health issues by sharing a personal story,” Paquin said. If we have open conversations, “then perhaps people in their desperate moments might not feel they cannot reach out.”

“Glass” is the first feature directed by Stephen Moyer, who happens to be Paquin’s husband. The film came together through long-standing connections, Paquin explained. “Stephen and Denis and I have all known each other really well and we have a production company.”

In addition to Paquin and O’Hare, the cast includes Cynthia Nixon, Melissa Leo, Rhys Ifans and Ed Asner. “Melissa and I had done an off Broadway play years ago and stayed in touch,” said Paquin. “I emailed her the script, told her we had no money. She read a third of it and said, ‘I’m in.’”

Nixon happens to be a friend of O’Hare and Ifans is a friend of Moyer. As for Asner, “he was a gift from the gods,” Paquin said. “We didn’t have any connection. He read it and it was an immediate yes.”

Once the film got made it went to the Edinburgh Film Festival. Karlovy Vary is its second outing. “The film is not commercial by any stretch of the imagination,” Paquin admitted, “so in this case the festival route is the only way we’re going to get this film out there, to get people to see it and start talking about it.”

Debruge asked the actress/producer whether the proliferation of new viewing platforms such as stream options could ever engender a revival of “True Blood.” Paquin was skeptical: “I don’t think so. For starters we killed off a lot of the characters, and some of the ensemble has passed away. Going back to rediscover the chemistry of that specific moment feels unsatisfying and makes what was amazing somehow less special.”

The actress, who has worked on stage as well as in TV and film, see similarities rather than differences among the media. “Films and TV are coming closer together, and on some platforms TV is very cinematic,” she said. As for the stage, “trying to find the emotional truth of your character is not that different to me, whether the audience sees it in the theater or many months later (on the screen).”

The bottom line for Paquin: “I feel passionate about telling stories. I have an endless appetite for new challenges. One of the great things about my job is that every few months you get to move on to the next thing.”

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