Diane von Furstenberg hosted the New York premiere of “Cezanne et moi,” last week at the snazzy new Witby Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Guests included A-listers in both the arts and in fashion.
Written and directed by veteran French filmmaker Danièle Thompson (“Cousin, cousin”), the movie chronicles the friendship of post-impressionist painter Paul Cezanne (Guillaume Gallienne) and novelist Emilie Zola (Guillaume Canet) over four decades.
The two men could not have had more different backgrounds. Cezanne grew up in a wealthy family but eventually rejected the bourgeoisie life to focus on his painting. Zola came from poverty but found success, wealth and an enjoyable but complicated domestic arrangement with two beautiful women. Zola achieved fame and prosperity early in his lifetime while Cezanne’s recognition as a great artist came only after his death.
In introductory remarks before the screening, Ms. von Furstenberg told the audience, “The film is so beautiful, and we know it’s about Cezanne and Zola, but really the movie Is a Cezanne, this is how beautiful it is. And the screenwriter and the director is the most talent storyteller you can ever find, and I know that because she’s been telling me stories for 40 years and this is really a masterpiece.
The filmmaker took the stage with her star, Guilliame Gallienne and told the audience that she shot the film in the places that the artists lived and played as children. The stone house we see where Canet as Zola writes and lives is Zola’s actual house in Aix-en-Province, where the two grew up.
Mr. Gallienne added that it “was like a dream” to see the film screened in New York for the first time, adding, “I hope you’ll get sloshed afterwards.”
Earlier on the red carpet I asked Mr. Galllienne if he would describe the relationship between Zola and Cezanne as a bromance?
“It’s based on friendship and the different levels of it. They were nearly like brothers. Yes, why not a bromance?” replied Mr. Gallienne, who speaks flawless English and also spoke fluent Spanish to the journalist standing next to me from Venezuela.
“They have a falling out after 35 years of great friendship, but it’s funny to see how they managed to remain friends for 35 years because, god, they were so different,” Mr. Gallienne told me of the their complicated relationship.
The actor said what most drew him to the role of Zola was that it was large. “He gets very angry in a large way. And at the same time the challenge was how to be touching, a touching pain in the ass.”
Sadly Mr. Canet did not attend, perhaps because his longtime partner Marion Cotillard is expecting their second child.
Guests at the premiere from the film: Guillaume Gallienne, Nicolas Messica, filmmaker Daniele Thompson and producer Albert Koski. Hosts, Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller with additional guests Ellen Burstyn, Marina Abramovic, Jessica Joffe, Ahn Duong, Fran Lebowitz, Ingrid Betancourt, Bob Balaban, Bennett Miller, Alistair Banks Griffin, Brigitte Lacombe, Marco Brambilla, David Salle, Eric Fischl, Art Spiegelman & Francoise Mouly, Renee Cox, Bob Colacello, Anne McNally, Rick Hertzberg, Carl Swanson, Maguy Le Coze, Rebecca Fourteau and Chloe Wise.