Happy Birthday, Lorene Scafaria! This American filmmaker started her career as an actress (appearing in several television shows and films such as Big Helium Dog in 1999 & A Million Miles in 2001), but is now best known for her work as a writer and director.
Lorene made her breakthrough film in 2008. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)—adapted from a novel of the same name by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan— is a romantic comedy about two teenagers, Nick and Norah, of course, who meet at a club in New York City, and spend the night together searching for a secret show by their favorite band. Nick and Norah was a critical success, and was—and still is—widely loved by viewers.
In 2012, Lorene wrote and directed Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. Like Nick and Norah, Seeking a Friend has a romantic core, but it is set in a world where an asteroid is coming very close to destroying our planet. FF2 Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner describes this film as “Funny in the beginning; touching at the end,” and “really lovely and very surprising”.
In an interview with Jan, Lorene delved into her reasoning behind an end-of-the-world romantic comedy:
“I love relationships. I love intimate stories about people; whether it’s a guy and a girl or whatever it is, I like intimate stories of people and how they relate to each other. […] Taking this concept [of the end of the world] allowed me to focus on what people want and need and care about and how they spend their time, which was really what I was focusing on mostly.”
Most recently, Lorene wrote and directed Hustlers (2019), which is based on a true story about a group of strippers who scammed their wealthy Wall Street clients after the 2008 market crash. Hustlers stars the iconic Jennifer Lopez at the head of an amazing cast lead by Constance Wu, Cardi B, and Lizzo. What starts semi-sleazy becomes a compelling story about female empowerment,
Hustlers was another huge commercial success for Lorene, and it was also a critical success garnering numerous award nominations (most especially for Jennifer Lopez’s performance). In her review, FF2 contributor Dayna Hagewood writes: “[Hustlers] demolishes many stereotypes about strippers, submits to our innate desire to take part in this culture (even if only voyeuristically), and manages to construct a beautiful and winding story about two women and their hopes, failures, and relationships as they attempt to make it in their own ways.”
Lorene has a unique ability to blend genres and tell compelling stories under a variety of circumstances. Though her stories span a wide range of topics, they are always at their heart about the connections that people make with one another (whether that’s a friendship before the apocalypse or a partnership to take down Wall Street men). With both a big heart and a great eye for entertainment, Lorene sure knows how to make a film.
© Julia Lasker (5/1/2023) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Read Jan Lisa Huttner’s Interview with Lorene Scafaria here.
Read Sophia Jin’s tribute to Lorene Scafaria here.
Read Jan Lisa Huttner’s review of Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist here.
Read Jan Lisa Huttner’s review of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World here.
Read Dayna Hagewood’s review of Hustlers here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured Photo: Lorene Scafaria at arrivals for Premiere of NICK & NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST, The Arclight Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, October 02, 2008. Photo by: Dee Cercone/Everett Collection (Newscom TagID: evphotos080562.jpg) [Purchase of NewsCom image made at the time of Jan’s interview in 2012. ]
Bottom Photo: Constance Wu & Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers (2019) Photo by Courtesy of STXfilms – © Motion Picture Artwork © 2019 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.