No joking: Ben Stiller directs gritty prison drama

You have the freedom to tell these kind of stories on TV and work in a way that is not just about bringing huge audiences to the theaters, said Ben Stiller. (Reuters)
Updated 16 October 2018
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No joking: Ben Stiller directs gritty prison drama

  • Stiller puts on his auteur hat to tell the gritty and fascinating tale of a woman who helped two murderers escape from an upstate New York jail near the Canadian border
  • Stiller, whose films have grossed nearly $3 billion (2.5 billion euros), said it would have been impossible to “do all the nuances of (prison) reality in two hours” on the big screen

CANNES, France: Hollywood star Ben Stiller put away his clown face Monday to premiere his directorial debut in Cannes, a stranger-than-fiction prison-break drama that is based on a true story.
The American actor best known for the “Zoolander” and “Night at the Museum” films directed all eight episodes of “Escape at Dannemora,” the first of which was screened at MIPCOM, the world’s top television and entertainment showcase in the French Riviera resort.
With a stellar cast that includes Benicio del Toro, Patricia Arquette and Paul Dano, Stiller puts on his auteur hat to tell the gritty and fascinating tale of a woman who helped two murderers escape from an upstate New York jail near the Canadian border.
Their 2015 break-out from the Clinton Correctional Facility at Dannemora riveted America.
The interest grew still more intense when it became clear that middle-aged female supervisor in the jail, Tilly Mitchell, was having sex with both men and was smuggling hacksaw blades and burger meat into them.
Stiller, whose films have grossed nearly $3 billion (2.5 billion euros), said it would have been impossible to “do all the nuances of (prison) reality in two hours” on the big screen.
“You wouldn’t have been able to tell the stories of all the characters... or have the chance to lay out their world and build the tension,” he said after the screening.
“Television is now the place where you can make the kind of movies we are not making anymore,” he added.
Imagine, he argued, trying to get over the reality of Mitchell working with a lone guard in a room “full of 40 murderers and rapists, each with a pair of shears, working for 35 cents an hour” for an outside company that was making a fat profit on all their backs.
Stiller spent nearly two years working on “Escape at Dannemora,” visiting the surviving escaper David Sweat for five hours and shooting in the prison yards where he plotted the break with the Machiavellian Richard Matt, a talented painter who wrapped other inmates and prison guards round his finger.
He said the script was based on the anti-corruption report written by New York inspector general Catherine Leahy Scott, which Stiller said “read like a novel.”
“It is hard not to identify with the protagonist in a prison escape, but we wanted to show who they were as people and why they were in jail,” Stiller added.
“You have the freedom to tell these kind of stories on TV and work in a way that is not just about bringing huge audiences to the theaters,” said the 52-year-old actor.
“It is the kind of story that I have wanted to tell but I’ve never done until now.”
The first episode of “Escape at Dannemora” will go out on Showtime in the US on November 18.


The Six: Maison Rabih Kayrouz’s haute couture collection

Maison Rabih Kayrouz SS'19.(AFP)
Updated 12 min 14 sec ago
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The Six: Maison Rabih Kayrouz’s haute couture collection

DUBAI: Lebanese fashion house Maison Rabih Kayrouz unveiled its 2019 spring/summer haute couture collection at Paris Couture Week on Monday, after receiving haute couture status from the French Couture Federation in December.

Golden touch
The Lebanese designer created this knitted sweater with a golden metallic tint and paired it with a flowy maxi skirt embellished with delicate lace in this decadent look.

Warming up
This look featured a camel-colored fleece suit, with a transparent mesh top embellished with golden filigree work. The geometric folds of the jacket took this look from “meh” to memorable.

Fern green queen
A candy cane-striped shirt was paired with jewel-toned, wide-cut silky pants in this causal yet elegant daytime look.

Chartreuse muse
This high-necked chartreuse dress featured cuffed, bell sleeves and was paired with matching shoes for a sumptuous sartorial statement.

Cream dream
A cream-colored, princess-cut dress, the ribbed fabric on this chic number gave it a certain edginess — as did the exaggeratedly high collar.

Work it
This look featured bat sleeves with delightful, cutting-edge slits running up the crisp white sleeves. The office-appropriate statement top, with its on-trend dog collar, was matched with simple, wide-legged black pants and flat ballet slippers.