“The Stone Angel” arrived in theaters July 11, and stars Ellen Burstyn and Ellen Page, two Ellens sharing an impeccable capacity for great performances. Directing them from a script she crafted is Kari Skogland, who recently spoke with SheKnows.
Oscar heat in July
Burstyn, a six-time Oscar nominee, is commanding Oscar buzz once again for her portrayal of a woman at aged 60 and 90, who has a rush of memories that forces her to deal with a lifetime of choices.
Skogland sat down with SheKnows to talk the finer points of bucking summer movie trends with compelling drama, having two actresses flirting Oscar once again with her film, and how women in the
entertainment industry have to make their own opportunities.
A prime example of that latter, not only did she write “The Stone Angel” and direct the film, Skogland is the film’s producer.
SheKnows: First of all when you first started to write “The Stone Angel” script did you go right to the book for direct inspiration or did you write a script based on the feel of the book?
Kari Skogland: I had read the book as a teenager. It really touched me with its rich and deep story. I had the usual epiphany of a young girl discovering the world of literature. Then I reread it when I was
looking for a project as a filmmaker years later as an adult. I rediscovered it on a completely new level. I had life experience under my belt. It is a bit of a cautionary tale. It’s about a
woman whose memories are clouding her. She has to deal with stuff she never dealt with. This was something when you in your middle years. It really spoke to me. I felt it was a story I had to tell. I
think that’s I was so insistent on getting it done (laughs). So I got the rights and took me five years to bring it to the screen.
SheKnows: When you put the cast together, given the passionate nature you have for the story, you must have been thrilled from that first set reading.
Kari Skogland: Absolutely, they were incredible. Like any independent project, it’s full of potholes and you bump in and out of production. You loose your money and then you find your money, all that stuff.
It’s a rocky road. No matter what happened off screen, the joy of seeing the characters come to life through these people was astounding. Ellen Burstyn, in particular, does an amazing
performance. One I hope will be nominated. She’s certainly a national treasure. It’s time for her to be recognized again. She’s been nominated six times, let’s give her one!
That’s a woman worth paying attention to and here’s another performance that is riveting.
SheKnows: It’s a Canadian book, did you feel any pressure bringing to screen a beloved national character in our northern neighbor’s literature.
Kari Skogland: Yeah, and to see the story realized resonates on so many levels.
SheKnows: As the screenwriter and director, to have a story where memories are used, I would think would be such an intrinsic plot moving mechanism to work with. It’s not
your normal beginning, middle and end type of story.
Up next…Kari talks about being a rebel in Hollywood and the incredible Ellen Page