Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mariel Hemingway Interview - 2013 Film Festival

Another Hemingway Returns for Key West Film Festival

By Shirrel Rhoades
Cooke Communication Film Critic

Mariel Hemingway says the first time she realized her grandfather was someone special, more than just a writer whose picture hung in her family’s hallway, was when she went to school -- the Ernest Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum, Idaho. “He must have been somebody important to have a school named after him,” she thought to herself.

Growing up in Idaho, she hiked, rode, climbed -- a real tomboy. “I think my father wanted a boy,” she laughed as she reminisced about her childhood. Her dad was Jack Hemingway, eldest son of the great writer. Jack was known for his love of the outdoors, a devout fly fisherman. “A love of nature,” she said. “I think I got that from him.”

She sees nature as a way to stay at peace, a way of find your balance in life. She recently wrote a book about it with her partner Bobby Williams, titled “Running With Nature.” She and the noted stuntman met on a hike.

Starting off her acting career by co-starring in “Lipstick” with her late sister Margaux, she went on to receive an Oscar nomination for Woody Allen’s “Manhattan.” Among her many other films were “Personal Best,” “Mean Season,” “Star 80,” and “Creator” (“Peter O’Toole was crazy as a loon,” she says fondly).

Now Mariel Hemingway is appearing in a documentary called ‘Running From Crazy.” It’s a look at her famous family’s history, rife with “at least seven suicides,” bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, depression, and substance abuse.

Ernest Hemingway shot himself a few months before Mariel was born. Her sister Margaux overdosed on phenobarbital. Great Uncle Leicester committed suicide with a gunshot to the head.

“These are taboo subjects,” Mariel maintains. “But the film gives people permission to talk about these things.”

Why make such a revealing film? “I did it because I was very curious myself,” she says. “And I wanted my children to know about these family secrets.” But she also saw it as a way to help other people come to terms with mental issues.

A friend of hers at the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) suggested this documentary about her family.

“Are you out of your mind?” Mariel responded. “They’re all crazy.”

“But that’s the point,” her friend replied.

When director Barbara Kopple (a two-time Oscar-winner for “Harlan County USA” and “American Dream”) expressed interest, Mariel Hemingway began to take the project seriously. Oprah was an executive producer.

Mariel’s biggest astonishment in making the film was discovering footage her sister Margaux had shot of the family. “This uncut unseen footage that my sister did was a surprise for me. Listening to her talk about her pain gave me a new appreciation for what she was going through.”

In the documentary Mariel recalls her dysfunctional parents, the drinking, the fights, her father taking refuge in their basement while young Mariel dutifully cleaned up the broken glass and blood as if it were a normal nightly ritual.

Mariel Hemingway will be in Key West to present “Running From Crazy” at the upcoming Key West Film Festival, November 13 through 17.

Her actress daughter Dree Hemingway was a guest at last year’s Key West film Festival, appearing in her debut film “Starlet.”

Looking back Mariel Hemingway finds it hard to believe she’s only visited Key West twice before. “My first trip was twenty years ago, briefly. I came back a couple of years ago. It was good fun.”

Now she returns to the island where her famous grandfather remains a legend, his image plastered on saloons, T-shirts, and his one-time home. She brings her family’s untold story. “It’s a dark history of the family,” she says. “But it’s also an uplifting film.”

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