It’s been a pretty good year for directors Chloe Zhao and Denis Villeneuve and not just because they’re each responsible for one of the year’s two most-anticipated cinematic experiences — though that certainly would be enough. No, instead of the pair merely creating two of the winter’s biggest blockbusters, Zhao and Villeneuve have also created something else: a beautiful friendship.
Back in September, Zhao and Villeneuve made headlines when they appeared on Harper’s Bazaar together for an in-depth discussion on the film industry and its future. Zhao also became one of the first filmmakers to offer up rave reviews for Villeneuve’s Dune, telling Sight & Sound magazine (via IndieWire) “it gives me hope that a filmmaker like Denis is able to really harness his vision and put together something that’s so incredible, so cinematic” and she was “blown away” by the motion picture.
A few months later and Zhao is back to gushing about her friend and colleague, revealing that Villeneuve not only helped guide her pitch for Eternals, but also let her watch Dune early so she could observe how he adapted the source material for IMAX in a compelling way. According to IndieWire, Zhao praised the director for being so generous with his film and said he even offered her other references to look at to help her make Eternals the best it could be.
“I gotta say that I’m a big fan of Denis; he’s a friend,” Zhao said. “[Eternals and Dune] got pushed and shifted because of the pandemic. We got pulled apart and then now we’re back together again at the same time. Even when I was working on IMAX for ‘Eternals,’ I asked him if it was okay for me to watch Dune. I knew he did incredible things in IMAX, so I knew I could learn from him. He was so generous; he was like, ‘Yes.’ He also gave me other references to look at.”
If all that has warmed your heart and made you believe there is some kindness in the at-times cutthroat movie industry, you’re not alone. Zhao also said the director has been a great source of “strength” for her, and getting able to hug on another at festivals and see one another go through the film industry together has been “empowering.”
“I actually find a lot of strength in our films coming out at the same time and to have a colleague who I respect and love and to be able to go through this together and to hug each other at Venice [International Film Festival] when Dune came out. He even sent me a message last night, so it all feels very empowering.”