Person of interest

Debating Third Person with Paul Haggis.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Debating with Paul Haggis on the Third Person at the US premiere during the Tribeca Film Festival, with Sting by his side.
Debating with Paul Haggis on the Third Person at the US premiere during the Tribeca Film Festival, with Sting by his side. Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Director/screenwriter Paul Haggis, at the US premiere of Third Person, walked the red carpet with Sting, whose daughter Mickey Sumner was on the Tribeca Film Festival Best New Narrative Director Competition jury won by Josef Wladyka for Manos Sucias, with Spike Lee as executive producer.

Third Person stars Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Adrien Brody, James Franco, Mila Kunis with Kim Basinger, Moran Atias, Maria Bello and Loan Chabonal.

Griffin Dunne - a flash on the Third Person premiere red carpet
Griffin Dunne - a flash on the Third Person premiere red carpet Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Griffin Dunne made a dashing appearance as he did two days earlier at Jann Wenner and Sony Pictures Classics' For No Good Reason premiere and the Ralph Steadman exhibition at Red Bull Studio.

Set mostly in hotel rooms in Paris, Rome and New York, Third Person really takes place in the minds of fathers and mothers about sons and daughters, among artists and writers sucking dry their haunted muses. A child’s shining voice whispers “watch me” three times and a note written in a room at The Mercer in New York manifests itself miraculously in Paris.

Liam Neeson (Michael) and Olivia Wilde (Anna) seduce each other mostly in Paris. Adrien Brody (Sean) is on a rescue mission of a possibly non-existent little Romanian girl in Rom, while Mila Kunis (Julia) battles her own demons and James Franco (Rick) in New York. The colour white, we learn from Neeson’s character, is the colour of trust, of belief, and “the colour of the lies he tells himself.” A man who, we hear, only feels through the characters he creates.

Paul Haggis on the Third Person:
Paul Haggis on the Third Person: "Brecht was a very smart man. I would say that whether it works or doesn't, there's always that person." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Anne-Katrin Titze: Did you use any theory as background for the Third Person?

Paul Haggis: No.

AKT: You were not going into Brechtian territory?

PH: No. It has a couple of meanings. As you know, third person is "he", "she" and also there's usually a third person in every relationship.

AKT: That's where I was going with Brecht and the Praise of the Third Thing.

PH: Yes. But he wasn't the first to do it.

AKT: His point is that every relationship, to be good, needs a third thing that both people care about, which is not necessarily a third person.

Loan Chabonal is Sam in Third Person with John Wildman IndieZone.tv
Loan Chabonal is Sam in Third Person with John Wildman IndieZone.tv Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

PH: Brecht was a very smart man. I would say that whether it works or doesn't, there's always that person. Whether it's destructive or constructive.

John Wildman, who is coordinator extraordinaire for the press at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, was this time conducting a red carpet interview for IndieZone.tv. Right next to me, he followed up with Haggis about a question the director had asked Valeria Golino from the audience, when she did a Q&A earlier this year on her excellent debut film Honey. The answer to Haggis's question had been interrupted then, so Wildman made another attempt to tie up the loose ends. Haggis said: "I asked her later. I got my answer but I forgot. It's a wonderful film."

Tribeca Film Festival remaining public screening: Sunday, April 27, 5:30pm - AMC Loews Village 7 – 3

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