Netflix has released the trailer for its highly-anticipated project, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. Following its premiere at the 55th New York Film Festival, the documentary will be available for wider streaming on October 27. Griffin Dunne, Didion’s nephew, is at the helm.
“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to convey the life and work of my aunt, and literary icon, Joan Didion,” Dunne said in a statement. And from the looks of the trailer below, he's done a fine job.
It’s been a labor of love for the writer-director, whose 2014 Kickstarter campaign first introduced the idea of a Didion-centric documentary. Three years ago, Dunne spoke with Vogue—coincidentally, his aunt's first writing gig—and referred to the project as “a heady responsibility that I want to get right.” For a woman who once championed keeping a notebook and how “we tell ourselves stories in order to live,” a tribute to her own story seems only fitting.
Beyond exploring Didion’s body of work, The Center Will Not Hold promises glimpses into the writer’s personal life: parties with Steven Spielberg, conversations with Jim Morrison, her marriage to John Dunne, and the loss of her daughter, Quintana Roo. Of course, no Didion film could be complete without footage of California—a place so essential to the Didion canon that the two seem inherently intertwined.
Didion is a household name in the literary and journalism world. She is the author of five novels (one of which has been adapted into a motion picture), in addition to penning acclaimed nonfiction—including Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album. Her memoirs, The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights, are bestselling meditations on grief and healing, as Didion mourned the deaths of her husband and daughter. Her latest book, South and West, is a collection of journal entries written while covering the Patty Hearst trial for Rolling Stone.
While you wait for October 27, catch up on some of Didion’s most famous works.
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
“Didion’s essays of a world featuring barricades and bombings, mass murders and kidnapped heiresses make recent history as filtered through her seem a savage and passionate drama, something you can put a hand on and feel it beating, something you can put your ear to and hear its story.” —The Village Voice
The White Album
“All of the essays—even the slightest—manifest not only [Didion’s] intelligence, but an instinct for details that continue to emit pulsations in the reader’s memory and a style that is spare, subtly musical in its phrasing and exact. Add to these her highly vulnerable sense of herself, and the result is a voice like no other in contemporary journalism.” —The New York Times Book Review
Play It as It Lays
“There hasn’t been another American writer of Joan Didion’s quality since Nathanael West. She writes with a razor, carving her characters out of her perceptions with strokes so swift and economical that each scene ends almost before the reader is aware of it; and yet the characters go on bleeding afterward...There is nothing superfluous, not a word, not an incident...A terrifying book.” —John Leonard, The New York Times
“Joan Didion has great instincts for metaphor. She can take an ordinary object...and make it as ominous as Hitchcock...She’s writing truths about American culture in the sand at our feet...With Didion leading, you could follow one of her paragraphs into hell.” —The Boston Globe
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