AFI Movie Club: BEATRIZ AT DINNER – American Film Institute

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AFI Movie Club: BEATRIZ AT DINNER

BEATRIZ AT DINNER is directed by AFI Conservatory alum Miguel Arteta and stars Salma Hayek as a Mexican immigrant and healer who, when her car breaks down at the home of a wealthy client, ends up staying for dinner and engaging in an epic sparing match, exposing harsh truths about race, class and privilege. 

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BEATRIZ AT DINNER – Reelgood

Movie Trivia About BEATRIZ AT DINNER

DID YOU KNOW? BEATRIZ AT DINNER is not the first collaboration for director Miguel Arteta and screenwriter Mike White. White had previously written Arteta’s CHUCK AND BUCK and THE GOOD GIRL, while Arteta also co-executive produced and directed episodes of ENLIGHTENED, the critically acclaimed HBO series co-created by White and star Laura Dern. 

DID YOU KNOW? Though the film’s freewheeling “dinner conversation” atmosphere would seem to lend itself to improvisation, director Miguel Arteta said that it was rare that the cast ventured off script during production. Arteta said, “The actors respond to Mike’s writing, and this was a very carefully constructed piece. The way he built the tension in the script was very careful. The actors respected that, and we kept very close to the script.” 

DID YOU KNOW? Principal photography in the film’s central location – the house of Connie Britton’s character, Kathy – took place over 19 days. According to director Miguel Arteta, during that time, the cast “ate a lot of salmon” across numerous takes of the dinner scene. 

DID YOU KNOW? The film uniquely offers specific commentary that seems very aligned to the cultural and political climate of the time of its release in 2017, but its production actually took place the August before the 2016 Presidential election – and screenwriter Mike White wrote it in the summer of 2015. White described the parallels to reality as “an unfortunate coincidence.”

DID YOU KNOW? Screenwriter Mike White has said that the killing of Cecil the Lion by an American game hunter in the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe was what first inspired the idea behind BEATRIZ AT DINNER. He said, “I’m an animal person. I’d heard about that story, and it just hit me in the gut. I had thought to myself, ‘If I was at a dinner party with a guy like that, and he told me he was going to Africa and hunt a lion, what would I do? Would I flip out on him? Grab a butter knife and leap across the table?’” 

DID YOU KNOW? Life tragically imitated art for star Salma Hayek before production began on BEATRIZ AT DINNER. In the film, she plays a woman whose sense of spiritual empathy for animals is brought into sharp relief by the murder of her goat by a neighbor. In Hayek’s own life, her beloved dog Mozart was shot and killed by a neighbor in the February before principal photography – which Hayek has said gave her a different perspective on the film’s ideological debate that was “so disturbing to me.” 

 

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-What cinematic devices were used to illustrate the philosophical, ideological and political divide between the dinner attendees? 

-What role does humor play in BEATRIZ AT DINNER? 

-How do each of the dinner guests reflect different aspects of their shared perspective? How are they similar, and how are they different? 

-Do you think there’s common ground for people on such far ends of the philosophical, ideological and political spectrum? 

-What do you think of the ending to BEATRIZ AT DINNER? 

-How would you rate BEATRIZ AT DINNER? 

 

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