The revered essayist Joan Didion’s life and writings across 50 years will be traced in an upcoming documentary: The Centre Will Not Hold.
Didion, known for works such as the culture-defining Slouching Toward Bethlehem (1968) and The White Album (1979), is interviewed in the film, which is directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne.
“She says somewhere in the movie how much the landscape of California and her ancestors and the women in her family who came across (the country),” Dunne told Vanity Fair, “how deeply ingrained that frontier spirit and morality and work ethic and practicality is embedded in her soul.”
“It is a tremendous honour to have the opportunity to convey the life and work of my aunt, and literary icon, Joan Didion,” he added in a statement.
The film will include archival footage, as Pitchfork reports, of Didion out with Janis Joplin, meeting up with Jim Morrison in a recording studio and Didion’s retelling of an interview with Manson family follower Linda Kasabian in prison. As Quartz reports, the documentary title references “The Second Coming,” by W. B. Yeats, which also inspired the Slouching Toward Bethlehem.
The enigmatic 82-year-old took part in the 2015 Celine campaign, shot by Juergen Teller. How we perceive America’s 60s and 70s is wholly defined by Didion’s writing, which provided detailed snapshots of society, culture and morals during a turbulent era.
Netflix is also set to release Voyeur, chronicling a pivotal moment in the life of a fellow New Journalism pioneer, Gay Talese. The story revolves around a controversial piece Talese wrote on Colorado motel owner Gerald Foos, who for years spied and recorded guests. It’s directed by Myles Kane and Josh Koury, and will also premier at NYFF and Netflix.
Joan Didion: The Centre Will Not Hold will premiere at the New York Film Festival and will launch on Netflix on October 27