Interview: POPAXIOM Talks With Director Bart Freundlich About AFTER THE WEDDING

Having debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival as the Opening Night Film, Bart Freundlich’s new film After the Wedding, a remake of Susanne Bier’s highly-acclaimed film of the same name, is making its way to theaters this weekend. Starring an all-star cast including Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, and Billy Crudup, the film is about the director of an orphanage in India who travels to New York City to secure a donation from a potential benefactor, only to discover that they may have more in common than she expected.

POPAXIOM got the opportunity to speak with Bart Freundlich, writer and director of After the Wedding, about his film. After the Wedding opens in theaters on August 9. You can read POPAXIOM’s review here.

On Making The Film Stand Out

POPAXIOM: Your film is a remake of the acclaimed film by Susanne Bier. How intimidating was it to live up to that high standard?

Freundlich: Well, it wasn’t exactly intimidating, but it was more that I wanted to be very careful not to diminish her work. I’m such a fan of hers as a director, particularly her raw emotional style and her originality. I just didn’t want to feel that I was going to do what she had already done, not as well. So I needed a reason, something that could kind of ignite it, and give me a way in for it to be my own, and that came through the gender swap. Because as we changed her three leads to two women and one man, these other backstories that were very different from the backstories in her film opened up. And that gave me my way in.

POPAXIOM: It really isn’t often that an independent film gets released with two such powerful and highly-acclaimed actresses as the leads. How do you think this is important in an era of increasing representation?

Freundlich: In just the obvious way, it was this myth that people only wanted to see a certain kind of people in their stories, that they didn’t want to see diversity in leads in movies. And I think it was like a self-perpetuated myth. I feel lucky that that is being broken because it gives me as a writer and as a storyteller so much possibility to find stories that haven’t been explored and to work with actors the caliber of Julianne [Moore] and Michelle [Williams]. Because there wasn’t a ton of opportunity to put two women in lead roles without it being like the highlight story of the film and the film’s release, I feel like there are these untapped stories that people like me get to explore now. And I think that, in general, I’m thinking about things in a very human way, not about are you a woman or a man, or where you’re from, or what you look like. It helps to highlight our common humanity.

after the wedding set
Left to Right: Bart Freundlich (Director), Julio Macat (Director of Photography). Photo by Elizabeth Fisher. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

On Shooting The Film

POPAXIOM: What were some of the obstacles you faced while shooting on location in India?

Freundlich: The main obstacle was not necessarily speaking the language of a lot of the crew. And the heat. All the practicalities. Being in a foreign place where you felt a little bit off your game. But also those obstacles became the things that were sort-of the strong points. It made me feel, and I think it made Michelle [Williams] feel very alive to be there. It was like you’re walking into your own movie. You’re surrounded by this environment and these people and this orphanage that we built. And there’s challenges communicating, but at the same time, all of those challenges feel like they would be real challenges for her character. What was challenging also really worked in our favor.

POPAXIOM: Your DP Julio Macat did a wonderful job. How did you work with him to create the beautiful look of the film?

Freundlich: Thank you. Julio is an old friend of mine, we shot a movie called Catch that Kid together, which was another Danish remake, oddly. He’s very experienced. What he and I discussed was the necessity in our film of having an objective camera that didn’t say too much because the story is so heightened. So many secrets are revealed, it’s such a melodrama. It felt like anything that said too much camera-wise would potentially push it over the top to feeling maudlin. So Julio was able to kind-of paint these beautiful frames and ended up using the ARRI 65, which is the camera Alfonso Cuarón shot Roma with. It’s a large format, but instead of using it for these big landscapes, we really used it for people’s faces. And we talked about kind-of treating the faces as if they were landscapes, lingering on them and really allowing you the time with these giant images of these amazing actors to process and make up and imagine what’s going on inside. And the other thing that he did that I just loved was this format allowed us to use very selective focus. So instead of using push-ins and cranes and all that, we ended up just using selective focus, especially at the wedding, to let you know who to pay attention to, but without it saying too much. He was a true partner on the movie.

after the wedding moore
Left to Right: Julianne Moore as Theresa Young, Abby Quinn as Grace Carlson. Photo by Julio Macat. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

On What People Can Learn From This Story

POPAXIOM: One of the main themes in the film is family. What do you hope that people will learn about the importance of family from your film?

Freundlich: Well, I think a lot of times life is so busy. I think that family is important, very important to everyone, but I know that sometimes it can be taken for granted. And as far as I know, you can’t go backwards in time. So I think that being able to truly spend every day in gratitude for those deep, deep, irreplaceable connections that we have with our families would be the most positive thing that you could take away from a film like this. To live every day to the fullest and to be able to express the value of those connections to those people.

POPAXIOM: One quote that stood out in the film is, “Is it us running through the world, or the world running past us?” What does this mean to you?

Freundlich: I’m glad. I was inspired by something that I had read that was a Billy Collins poem that had mentioned “What’s your perspective on are we really moving through the world and experiencing it that way, or are we kind of standing still and the world’s rotating around us.” And I just loved it. In context of our movie, what it meant to me was that Oscar was this deep, existential thinker, he’s this guy who contemplates this kind of stuff that’s very impractical but very deep, and then Theresa’s a very, very different kind of character. She’s someone who is very practical and straightforward-thinking. But the fact that she picks up on and appreciates what he said to her at that moment, to me, shows where they meet as a couple, this softening and this very, very deep human connection they have as two people who love each other and have spent their lives together.

POPAXIOM: Why do you think it is so important that English-speaking audiences hear this story?

Freundlich: Well, I think what’s beautiful about it is the complex humanity, particularly that no one in the story is a hero and no one is a villain. You know, these are people who made choices in their life and those choices have consequences. And now those consequences are coming to bear. So I feel like not only is it very life-affirming in ways, but I think it’s a reflection of reality, which is that our choices have consequences, but there’s not necessarily people that are just good and bad in the world. And thinking in that way promotes compassion. So I don’t know if I would say that it’s important, but I think that it could be valuable.

Be sure to go see After the Wedding in theaters beginning August 9!


Lovecraft Country: Sanctum VR | An American Dream

Welcome to Sanctum, a one-of-a-kind virtual reality experience that celebrates and complements Lovecraft Country. In “An American Dream,” the second of three events inspired by the world of the series, become a part of a live poetry performance inspired by the words of James Baldwin, adapted by Lovecraft Country writer Shannon Houston, and performed by…

Finn Wolfhard, Ryan Reynolds, and More Celebrate 10 Years of Netflix Canada

It's been 10 years of Netflix in Canada. That means 10 years of Canadians helping us bring incredible original movies, tv shows, and documentaries to the world. Happy Birthday Netflix Canada! SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 193 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series,…

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet | Official Trailer | Netflix

In this unique feature documentary, titled David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet, the celebrated naturalist reflects upon both the defining moments of his lifetime and the devastating changes he has seen. Coming to Netflix October 4 2020, the film addresses some of the biggest challenges facing life on our planet, providing a snapshot of…

The Perfect Weapon (2020): Official Trailer | HBO

Chaos is a click away. The Perfect Weapon premieres October 16 on HBO. Based on David E. Sanger's Best-Selling Book, available here: #HBO #HBODocs #ThePerfectWeapon Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: Stream on HBO Max: Get More HBO Official Site: Twitter: Instagram: Facebook: The Perfect Weapon (2020): Official Trailer…

‘The Loyalty Dinner’ Official Clip | The Comey Rule | SHOWTIME

President Trump (Brenden Gleeson) invites FBI Director James Comey (Jeff Daniels) to a one-on-one dinner and has one expectation from him during his tenure. Watch the premiere on September 27 at 9/8c on SHOWTIME. #SHOWTIME #TheComeyRule Subscribe to the SHOWTIME YouTube channel: Don’t have SHOWTIME? Order now: Get SHOWTIME merchandise now: Get…

OVER THE MOON | Official Trailer #2 | Netflix

Fueled with determination and a passion for science, a bright young girl builds a rocket ship to the moon to prove the existence of a legendary Moon Goddess. There she ends up on an unexpected quest, and discovers a whimsical land of fantastical creatures. Directed by Oscar®-Winning Filmmaker & Animator, Glen Keane, and produced by…

A Babysitter’s Guide To Monster Hunting | Official Trailer | Netflix

When high school freshman Kelly Ferguson reluctantly agrees to babysit on Halloween, she is recruited into a secret society of babysitters who protect kids with special powers from monsters. Based on the popular book series, A Babysitter's Guide To Monster Hunting will premiere on October 15th only on Netflix. SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix: Netflix is…

Watchmen: Regina King Is Angela Abar | HBO

Regina King’s masterful Emmy Award-winning performance as Angela Abar (aka Sister Night) is everything we need it to be: fierce, poised, heartfelt. Get to know Watchmen’s nun with a gun. #HBO #WatchmenHBO #ReginaKing Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: Based on the graphic novel co-created and illustrated by Dave Gibbons and published by DC, Damon…
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here