Armando Iannucci

Notebook | 28 September 2017

A mad dash from film fest to book fest – is it possible to fly from JFK to Ilkley?

I’m currently dwelling on past times. I have a film coming out based on the crazy events that took place in 1953 when Stalin died. (He lay having a stroke on his rug and in his urine for hours since everyone was too scared to knock and see if he was all right.) We shot the film last summer. Then Trump happened. Now, journalists grill me as if the movie was an intentional response to that bloated troll’s election victory. Films take years to finance and write, and another year to shoot and edit; in that time, there’s no way anyone could have predicted the election of America’s first balloon-animal-inflated-by-potato-gas as President.

Social media makes us take immediacy for granted. Anyone who writes a letter these days starts looking like they’re living in black and white. So it seems weird working in a medium that takes forever to get finished. I’d say the average film is four or five years from conception to release. Books are far worse, though. I’ve just published a book on classical music, Hear Me Out, that’s a response to a lifetime of listening to music and about a decade or so of writing on it. With unerring precision, the book and the movie seem to be coming out at the same time, even though both were started years ago, when film was in its infancy and Gutenberg was still staring at a wooden mangle and trying to think what else it could be used for.

This means that I’m on two breathless promotional tours simultaneously, hopping in between book and film festivals. The most abrupt jump happens next week, when I spend one day discussing The Death of Stalin at New York’s Comic Con, then head home next morning for the literary festival in Ilkley.

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