You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

With ‘Diane,’ Kent Jones Works Both Sides of Fest Circuit

Kent Jones has never liked rejecting films submitted for the New York Film Festival. But now that he’s written and directed “Diane,” NYFF’s director likes it even less.

Diane,” his narrative film debut, revolves around a selfless widow (Mary Kay Place) struggling to help her drug-addicted son (Jake Lacy). The film debuted at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, where it earned the top prize for narrative film and picked up screenplay and cinematography awards. In August, IFC Films acquired the U.S. rights to “Diane,” which it will release theatrically in early 2019.

Jones, who has directed several documentaries including “Hitchcock/Truffaut” (2015), got the idea for “Diane” long before he took over as director of NYFF in 2012.

“Since I was very young I’ve been moved to make a movie set in the world of my aunts and uncles and cousins,” Jones says. “Then I saw Mary Kay in ‘The Rainmaker’ and I decided that it really had to be for her.”

In the 1997 Francis Ford Coppola film, Place plays Dot Black, a woman whose son is dying of cancer. It was Place’s approach to the role and the humor she brought to it that appealed to Jones. “That and the way that her character carried sadness,” he says.

It took Jones decades and plenty of drafts to complete the screenplay for “Diane,” but it took just 20 days in early 2017 to shoot the drama.

When making the movie, Jones called upon the knowledge he had gathered from watching and writing about films as well as interviewing and being friends with seasoned directors including Martin Scorsese, who executive produced “Diane.”

“Olivier Assayas once told me that directing is constantly answering questions,” Jones says. “He said, ‘you are responding to everything. Is the response always right? It doesn’t matter, you just respond.’ That was really important to me to hear him say that.”

Jones has known Scorsese for 27 years. The two met when Jones worked as the director’s video archivist in the early ’90s. From 2009 to 2012, Jones served as executive director of the World Cinema Foundation, founded by Scorsese. Together, in 2010, the pair co-directed the documentary “A Letter to Elia.”

“Marty has always been supportive of me making a narrative,” says Jones. “My friendship with him is something that’s at the core of my life, and inevitably it’s reflected in ‘Diane.’”

In his role as fest director, Jones is unusual for making a narrative film on the side. “They are two very different jobs,” he says. “They stand in contrast.”

Now that he’s made “Diane,” Jones has even more respect for filmmakers and the filmmaking process, invoking Frank Capra’s comment: “nobody starts out to make a bad film.”

That said, Jones points his finger at filmmakers for those movies that do turn out badly. “Generally when a movie doesn’t turn out well, the filmmaker is lying to themselves about something on some level,” Jones says.

“Diane” won’t be at NYFF, but Jones will be. He won’t be leaving New York City for the festival circuit for at least a month. In addition to NYFF, he is getting married in October.

“I’ve always been comfortable doing a lot of different things,” he says. “I like it that way.”

More Film

  • Quentin Tarantino

    Quentin Tarantino Documentary 'QT8: The First Eight' Scores Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    Wood Entertainment has completed sales for France, Germany, Turkey, Italy and Russia for “QT8: The First Eight,” a documentary that chronicles Quentin Tarantino’s first eight films. The first buyers’ screening took place on Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival. Tarantino’s ninth film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” premiered at Cannes on Tuesday night. Producer [...]

  • 'Asbury Park' Doc Covers Bruce Springsteen,

    Film Review: 'Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock 'N Roll'

    A civic Phoenix story is promised and effectively delivered in “Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock ‘N Roll,” even if there’s little doubt that what much of the audience will be hoping for from this documentary is Bruce, the whole Bruce and nothing but the Bruce. The film satisfies a good portion of that craving with [...]

  • Timothy Olyphant Once Upon a Time

    Timothy Olyphant Explains Why He Did 'Hitman' Movie

    The 2007 film adaptation of the “Hitman” video game franchise is … not good. It received a score of 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics panning its incoherent plot and terrible dialogue. So, why did actor Timothy Olyphant take on the lead role as Agent 47? He had a mortgage to pay, he told [...]

  • Daniel Craig

    Daniel Craig to Undergo Ankle Surgery After 'Bond 25' Injury

    Daniel Craig will undergo ankle surgery after sustaining an injury while filming “Bond 25.” “Daniel Craig will be undergoing minor ankle surgery resulting from an injury sustained during filming in Jamaica,” the franchise’s official Twitter account posted. “Production will continue whilst Craig is rehabilitating for two weeks post-surgery. The film remains on track for the [...]

  • Oh Mercy

    Cannes Film Review: 'Oh Mercy'

    It takes more than just watching “Oh Mercy” to understand exactly why Arnaud Desplechin was drawn to the subject matter of his latest movie, a reasonably engrossing police procedural with roots in a 2008 TV documentary. Something of an unexpected detour in the veteran director’s weighty career, the film combines multiple strands to paint a [...]

  • Spielberg's Amblin Chief Jeff Small on

    Listen: Spielberg's Amblin Chief on Making 'Movies in the Middle'

    With the sequel “A Dog’s Journey” now in theaters, Amblin Partners continues to find ways to release the kind of films that aren’t typical of what dominates American multiplexes these days. An follow-up to the 2017 surprise hit “A Dog’s Purpose,” “Journey” is just another example of the cinematic strategy evident at Amblin, the production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content