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We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live, the first and only documentary about Joan Didion. Made with Joan, using Joan's words.
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, the first and only documentary about Joan Didion. Made with Joan, using Joan's words.
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, the first and only documentary about Joan Didion. Made with Joan, using Joan's words.
3,565 backers pledged $221,135 to help bring this project to life.

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The Joan Didion Documentary

$221,135

3,565

Our Kickstarter campaign ended on Friday, November 21st. Please visit our website for further updates on the documentary. Thank you so much to everyone who supported!

Special thanks: Christopher NiquetStephanie LaCavaJoana AvillezAllison AdatoMaud NewtonMan RepellerGia CoppolaThe Pacific Tote CompanyAvery NejamLaura BrownHamish SmythZac PosenVogue.com and the Kickstarter family. 

                                                     www.didiondoc.com

                                 Instagram @Didiondoc // Twitter @Didiondoc

The film

We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live is the first and only documentary being made about Joan Didion. While her writing is fierce and exposed, Joan herself is an incredibly private person. We have the privilege to know Joan as a subject and also as a member of our family. Our director, Griffin Dunne, has known Joan his entire life. Joining Griffin as co-director is award-winning filmmaker, Susanne Rostock.

We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live traces the arc of Joan’s life through her own writings, and in her own voice. Our film will tell Joan’s story through passages she has chosen (and will read aloud) from her work, as her friends, family, colleagues and critics share their accounts of her remarkable life and writing. Patti Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Allison Janney, Graydon Carter, Robert Silvers, and Bret Easton Ellis are just a few of the people we’ll interview.
 
We want to honor Joan's language, to visualize the stories she tells, to put her words to picture. Joan’s obsessive memory, and her sharp and unsettling observations, will be brought to life, using music and images–rare and atmospheric film and stills that encapsulate her words. We will also be using rare archival from Joan’s personal life and family history.

Why now

Incredibly, this story has never been told. Now that we have the access, we must tell it. This is our chance to be Joan's witness. 

Our journey began a couple of years ago, when we shot Joan as part of a short video to accompany her book tour for Blue Nights.

After hours of watching her read and reflect it became clear that we could not stop there–we had to do something much larger and deeper. Storytelling was a way of enduring the potent rawness Joan experienced through life, and through loss. Now we must be the ones to preserve this. To preserve her legacy. 

"I have felt compelled to write things since I was five years old... I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." –Joan Didion 

Why here

We have come to Kickstarter to reach as many people as possible. We believe in the Kickstarter community. 

No gift is too small. When you donate, you are proving that there is a huge, hungry audience for a documentary about Joan. 

And by supporting this campaign, you are actually making this film with us.

The players

Alongside Joan's presence throughout the film, notable artists, writers, and actors will be interviewed.

Some include:

Patti Smith. Vanessa Redgrave. Michelle Williams. Cameron Crowe. Annie Leibovitz. Michiko Kakutani. Anna Wintour. Bret Easton Ellis. Scott Rudin. Jann Wenner. Graydon Carter. Allison Janney. Robert Silvers. Liam Neeson. 

And many more.

"[Joan Didion] cut loose any fixed idea that I ever had about death, about illness, about probability and luck, about good fortune and bad, about marriage and children and memory, about grief, about the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."

–Michiko Kakutani, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The New York Times

Our goal

So far we have shot 60 hours of footage, primarily of Joan. Now we need to shoot key interviews as described in "The players" section above. 

Joan was a chronicler of her times, and that world is quickly disappearing.

Who we are 

Director Griffin Dunne is an accomplished actor, producer, and director. Griffin made his foray into directing with the short film Duke of Groove, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. His feature film directorial debut was Addicted to Love; followed by Practical Magic, Fierce People, and The Accidental Husband. He is also a frequent director for The Good Wife. As an actor he is best known for After Hours, directed by Martin Scorsese, which Griffin also produced, An American Werewolf in London, directed by John Landis, and Johnny Dangerously with Michael Keaton. 

Director Susanne Rostock is a veteran documentary editor and director whose most recent film, Sing Your Song, opened in the U.S. Documentary Competition section at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Susanne’s 20-year multi–award winning collaboration as editor with director Michael Apted has produced such richly provocative films as: The Long Way Home, Me & Isaac Newton, and Moving The Mountain. She has achieved recognition for her editing on a myriad of films, garnering Emmys, IDA awards, Cable Ace awards, a Gold Hugo and acknowledgement from multiple national and international festivals. 

Producer Annabelle Dunne produces films with Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter. Their newest project, a documentary about Nora Ephron, will be released by HBO in 2015. The niece of Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, Annabelle has grown up in a family of writers. 

Producer Mary Recine has earned an Emmy Award and three Peabody Awards for her documentary work. Her current film projects include documentaries directed by Rebecca Cammisa and Liz Garbus. Collaborating with filmmaker Ric Burns for many years, Mary produced the critically acclaimed Eugene O’Neill: A Documentary Film; Andy Warhol: A Documentary; and Into the Deep among others. Her earlier credits as producer include the PBS series EGG, the Arts Show and City Life

Campaign consultant Vann Alexandra is a creative services agency that gets projects financed through crowdfunding with a 100% success rate. The company’s founder Alex Daly has been dubbed the Crowdsourceress. They have worked on campaigns with Neil Young, Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmakers, top designers, and citizen investigative journalist Brown Moses. 

Campaign video RAVA Films

PHOTO CREDITS:

© Julian Wasser 

© Mary Ellen Mark  

Risks and challenges

Our biggest challenge will be timing. We want to make this film and tell this story as soon as we possibly can, but there may be production delays along the way because of interview scheduling and rights issues.

This will in turn delay the expected delivery for rewards associated with the film itself. If this does happen, we will be sure to update our backers and be completely transparent.

That all said, based on years of experience with film, television, and documentary production, we are confident we will overcome any obstacles we face.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    ACCESS. With $5 you will get updates regarding the film: all of the behind the scenes anecdotes, images, and clips. Welcome to the team.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    THE CHRONICLE: What started as a research document for the film (put together by Joan's niece and the film's producer Annabelle) is now pages and pages of an oral history of Joan's life and work, which will be delivered in a PDF. Plus, the above.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    COPY OF THE FILM: Receive a digital download of the film when it's available. Plus, all the above.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    JOAN AND JOHN: Joan and her husband John Gregory Dunne were one of the best literary couples of our times. They wrote screenplays together, critiqued each other's writing, even sat next to each other on their typewriters. They also wrote infamous weekly columns for the Saturday Evening Post, where you could often find them communicating to each other through their respective words. The Saturday Evening Post has since closed down, but we are offering all those columns here as a digital reward. Plus, all the above.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    JOAN'S FAVORITES OF ALL TIME: Get a handwritten list of Joan's 12 most important books to read before you die. To be delivered via email. Try to read one every month for the year. Plus, all the above.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    JOAN'S RECIPE BOOK. John and Joan's house in Malibu was a fixture on the LA scene, and her recipe book represents a lifetime of entertaining. Some of Joan's personal recipes for pork roast with corn souffle, gumbo, linguini bolognese and much more are now available for your culinary exploration, all perfectly preserved in her handwriting. To be delivered in a PDF. Plus, all the above.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    LIMITED EDITION JOAN TEE. Christopher Niquet, stylist and fashion editor, designed a limited edition shirt exclusively for our campaign. Only 100 available get them while you can!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    LIMITED EDITION TEE #2. Illustrator Joana Avillez designed the second edition for our Joan Didion campaign tee collection. The reward is not included in rewards of $75 or higher, but it does include all of the digital rewards $50 or below. Only 250 available.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    POSTCARDS. A set of 9 postcards with photographs from Joan's personal collection. Each photo is paired with a quote or passage from her writing. Domestic shipping included! Plus, the above.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    VANITY FAIR PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE SIGNED BY JOAN: In 2009, VF released the Proust Questionnaire: 101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life, with answers from icons such as Aretha Franklin, Lauren Bacall, David Bowie, Allen Ginsberg, Gore Vidal, Paul Newman. And of course Joan. Receive this book and it will be signed by Joan. Domestic shipping included! Plus, all the digital rewards above.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    LIMITED EDITION JOAN DIDION TOTE – The Pacific Tote Company, created by Roman Coppola and The Directors Bureau, donated the limited edition "Play it As it Lays" tote completely in kind to our campaign. The tote will only be available through this campaign. This reward is not included in rewards of $175 or higher. This reward includes all digital rewards above. Only 30 available.

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    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    LIMITED EDITION JOAN DIDION PRINT – Artist Avery Nejam designed a limited edition print for the Joan Didion documentary, which she donated completely in kind to the campaign. The print is Giclee on Archival 100% Cotton Rag Paper, trimmed by hand, 22 x 22 inches and hand signed and numbered by Avery. The reward is not included in rewards of $250 or higher, but it does include all of the digital rewards $100 or below. Only 25 available.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    YOUR FAVORITE BOOK BY JOAN. Signed by Joan. Domestic shipping included! Plus, all the digital rewards above.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    BLUE NIGHTS READING. Hear Vanessa Redgrave read Blue Nights at the historical landmark Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York, and receive a copy of the book signed by Joan and Vanessa. (Travel and accommodations not included.) Plus, all the digital rewards above.

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    SEND A LETTER. Have you ever wanted to tell Joan what she truly means to you? How her writing changed you? Write a two page letter to Joan and her family will read the letter aloud to her. Plus, all the digital rewards above.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    TICKET TO THE PREMIERE. Get a ticket to the film's premiere! (Travel and accommodations not included.) Plus, all the digital rewards above.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    SIGNED MANUSCRIPT: An original manuscript for "The Panic in Needle Park" signed by Joan Didion and director Jerry Schatzberg. Is not included in any reward over $750. Includes all digital rewards above. Only 1 available.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    JOAN’S PERSONAL SUNGLASSES. What are one of the most iconic pairs of sunglasses a girl could own? This is your opportunity to see the world as Joan, with a pair of sunglasses from her personal collection. Domestic and international shipping included! Plus, all the digital rewards above.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    VISIT US ON SET. We will be interviewing many people for the film and we’d like to invite you to catch an interview in the making. You might see an interview with any of the following: Patti Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Michelle Williams, Cameron Crowe, Annie Leibowitz, Michiko Kakutani, Anna Wintour, Brett Easton Ellis, Scott Rudin, Jann Wenner, Graydon Carter, Allison Janney, Robert Silvers, Liam Neeson, and many more. (Travel and accommodations not included.) Plus, all the digital rewards above.

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Funding period

- (30 days)