Last weekend we welcomed writer/director Frederick Wiseman and actress and co-writer Nathalie Boutefeu to NYFF60 to present and discuss A Couple, a Main Slate selection of this year’s festival.
Countess Sophia Behrs married Leo Tolstoy when she was 18 and he was 34. They were husband and wife for 48 years, had 13 children, and she outlived him by nine years. Yet their relationship, among the most discussed and written about in literary history, was anything but harmonious, as Sophia, an artist in her own right—a photographer, memoirist, and editor—was constantly forced to negotiate her happiness with her husband’s infidelities. Inspired by Sophia’s story, legendary American documentarian Frederick Wiseman has made a film based on Sophia’s diaries and letters from Leo to Sophia, structured as a series of monologues delivered with magnificent poise and gathering intensity by star and co-writer Nathalie Boutefeu, pillowed by graceful images of natural beauty from the film’s bucolic French setting. Wiseman’s captivating one-woman portrait presents a remarkably contemporary rendering of a marriage.
Listen to and watch the conversation below as Boutefeu and Wiseman discuss A Couple with NYFF programming committee member, Rachel Rosen. Don’t forget to mark your calendars: A Couple opens on November 11th from Zipporah Films.