The actress joined forces with Miu Miu—and friend Liz Hannah, of The Post fame—to create the 15th short for the Italian label’s Women’s Tales series.
When Miu Miu asked Dakota Fanning to direct a short film (her first), she looked close to home for subject material. The final product? “Hello Apartment,” a spot-on, vivid portrait of how the spaces where we spend our formative years shape us into adults who may, someday, return to them and, all at once, remember everything. It also serves as an ode to Fanning’s own real-life apartment.
“Hello Apartment,” which premieres in London on Monday night, marks the 15th commission from Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales, which has previously featured shorts from legendary auteurs (Agnès Varda), groundbreaking directors (Ava DuVernay), and experimental multi-hyphenates (Miranda July and Chloë Sevigny). For the film, Fanning drew on her own formative first-apartment experiences. As she told Vanity Fair, “Even though my apartment’s very different from the one in the film, the experience of it is the same.” With the help of The Post writer and her friend Liz Hannah, Fanning perceptively captures how, as she put it, our homes become “shrine[s] to experiences” with the passage of time.
Told through the perspective of a Pepto pink-haired young woman named Ava (played by Irish actress Eve Hewson, of The Knick) who has just moved into an airy Brooklyn loft, the film traces her first love (with Tom Sturridge), loss, and inevitable red wine spills. It all comes with the knowing wisdom of a woman who’s been there and lived to tell the tale. Decades later, a much older Ava returns to this memory-charged, sunlit space to say, “Hello, apartment.”
Fanning, whose breakout role came at the age of seven in 2001’s I Am Sam, was intrigued by the opportunity to explore parts of the filmmaking process—namely, post-production—that had previously been closed to her. It was also the part that slightly freaked her out. While she was nervous that “the editing would be a tedious or an overwhelming experience,” she was pleasantly surprised. “The post-production and the magic that happens in the editing room with color timing and sound mixing and talking with the composer and the music supervisor—that’s where it all kind of comes together,” she said. (Ava also, not surprisingly, wears some Miu Miu pieces in the process, all hand-selected by Fanning.)
Fanning on the set of “Hello Apartment.”
The resulting film is an impressionistic portrait of what it’s like to remember experiences of youth in all their wild, colorful detail. “Ultimately, this was always going to be like a poem,” Fanning said, while noting that “there’s a whole other version of this film that’s very wordy.”
Fanning currently stars in TNT’s period drama The Alienist, and has taken on a producer role—another first—for The Bell Jar, Kirsten Dunst’s buzzy adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s novel, in which Fanning also stars. As for whether we can expect a full-length feature from Fanning down the line? Maybe, with more experience.
“I think [this process] has taught me that I want to continue exercising this muscle in short films. Maybe my next film will be a little bit longer, but I want to work up for it. I don’t feel 100 percent ready to do a full-length feature. You only do your first film once.” [Source]