Noah Pritzker’s bittersweet father and sons tale Ex-Husbands (aka Men Of Divorce) world premieres in Competition at the San Sebastian Film Festival on Sunday as one of the few U.S. productions to be accompanied by its cast this year thanks to its SAG-AFTRA interim agreement.
In search of some respite, he unwittingly travels to the Mexican resort of Tulum the same weekend as his oldest son’s bachelor party, where it emerges that he is not the only one suffering a life crisis.
The mainly Spanish press gave the warm-hearted picture – exploring family bonds and questions about love, life and death – an enthusiastic reception at a packed 8.30 am screening on Sunday morning ahead of a gala screening this evening.
Produced by Academy Award winner Bruce Cohen (American Beauty) under his Play Book Productions banner, Alexandra Byer at Rathaus Films and Nicolás Celis at Mexico City-based Pimienta Films (Birds of Passage), Ex-Husbands is among just under 500 independent feature productions to have qualified for a SAG-AFTRA Agreement since the beginning of the Actors’ Strike on July 14.
Pritzker said the interim agreement was a game-changer for an independent production like Ex-Husbands.
“It’s a small independent movie looking for distribution so to come without cast would have presented a whole other set of challenges,” he said.
Dunne, who takes an executive producer credit on the film, said he consulted with SAG before agreeing to join the festival tour.
“They recognise that this film did not have a distributor, was independently financed and wasn’t particularly relevant to the major issues that they were negotiating for. So, when I had their blessing, I’m thrilled to be here,” he said.
Norton suggested that while there had been initial confusion about whether actors should travel with films that had secured interim agreements, he was clear in his mind that it was the right thing to do.
“SAG has very openly said now that we should be encouraging independently financed movies more than ever. This is what we want. We want to be able to nourish that particular part of the industry,” he said.
Quizzed by a Spanish journalist on their hopes for an end to the strikes, Dunne said he had learned how to deal with periods of inactivity over the course of his career but that he was concerned for other members of the acting profession.
“I’ve been out of work for periods of time before so I’m familiar with that neurosis, but it’s been really tough for younger actors and actors who, you know, are more journeyman, who live from on one parts from one series to the next. A lot of actors are really hurting. So hopefully, it will get resolved soon.”
UK actor Norton said he had not been impacted as much as his U.S. counterparts due to the fact he is currently working in the theatre and that a handful of UK Equity Productions are still shooting.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to continue to work and I feel an immense gratitude obviously to those people who are making huge sacrifices on the other side of the pond for all of our sakes,” he said.
“It’s also worth mentioning, as Griffin said. that many actors are suffering. Many, many crew members are also suffering. So many people are affected by this, every single department, caterers, grips… it’s a huge, huge problem. And for them, not much is going to change so they’re making the ultimate sacrifice.”
Ex-Husbands is Pritzker’s second feature after 2015 drama Quitters.
He recounted how he had started working on the screenplay prior to the pandemic, taking inspiration from his own parents’ divorce as well as his father’s request to attend his bachelor party (which he turned down).
Griffin said he had fallen in love with his character.
“I’ve been acting for quite a long time. One year, you’re playing a lawyer, and then decades later you’re a Supreme Court judge, your somebody’s parent and then you’re somebody’s grandparent,” he said.
“To have a script with such a complex, interesting, funny character at my age, that is a central figure was so rare and a delight.”
“It’s my 11th or 12th shoot (with Rosanne Arquette),” said Dunne. “In 1980, we met in Poland for the shoot of a television movie called The Wall. Then I produced a movie called Baby It’s You (1983). Then we did After Hours… it’s been going on for quite while,” said Dunne.
“It just made perfect sense for Rosanna to be in this film. It was Noah’s call, but I was delighted. We just sort of picked up where we left off. We’re very close friends.”
Dunne revealed he was also huge fan of Benjamin’s work as an actor and director, particularly in the 1970s and 80s, and had even auditioned for his 1982 Oscar-nominated film My Favorite Year.
“I so wanted that movie. And here I was, now acting with hilm. I was just drilling him with questions about directing movies in the 70s and working with his wife (Paula Prentiss). I just took advantage of every moment I had with him.”