The charming actor serves as mentor for iconic designer Giorgio Armani's Films of City Frames initiatives, which stresses multiculturalism and diversity. Here, four major things we learned from the actor at South by Southwest:
Combining fashion with film in a truly innovative way, the third edition of Giorgio Armani’s initiative to help young filmmakers from around the globe came to Austin on Saturday night in a private event hosted by this year’s mentor, Oscar-nominated actor Dev Patel, and Roberta Armani.
Films of City Frames featured five short movies from film schools in Prague; Ludwigsburg, Germany; Tel Aviv; Beijing; and Emerson College in Boston. After an introductory cocktail, guests were invited into a dome-shaped room fashioned into a futuristic movie theater for the screenings, which ranged from an adolescent dreamscape at a German castle to a comedy about a murder trial—the one common denominator being that Armani sunglasses/eyeglasses played a role in each.
After the screening, student filmmakers joined Patel and fashion critic and curator Angelo Flaccavento for a lively discussion about the art of filmmaking, the inspiration and process behind each film, and the importance of global story-telling in today’s current tense political climate.
Actor Dev Patel (center) with moderator Angelo Flaccavento and student filmmakers at a panel discussion for Films of City Frames at SXSW 2017.
Wearing a dapper light pink jacket, Patel offered his own personal insight and guidance, telling the filmmakers more than once that he hoped they would hire him one day. During the question-and-answer session, Patel offered a few key nuggets as well:
On comedy vs. drama: "When it comes to acting, I lean toward comedy. Drama takes a lot of stillness." He told the audience that he was a natural comedian as a teenager, doing impressions and trying to charm the teachers. "It was a way not to get bullied." However, when he’s simply watching movies, he prefers dramas to comedies.
On immigration fears: "Dictators build walls, but art builds bridges."
On fashion in film: "Fashion is such a big part of character. To dissolve into someone else’s skin goes part and parcel with wearing clothes."
On the secret to his success: "Being bold and curious" has gotten him to where he is today.
After the conversation, guests—who included Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as fashion media and local notables such as the Austin Film Society’s Rebecca Campbell and jewelry designer Nina Berenato—were then welcomed to a cocktail party hosted by Patel and Roberta Armani.
This marked the third edition of Films of City Frames, a project done in conjunction with Luxottica and Rai Cinema. Says Giorgio Armani: "I am proud of my Films of City Frames initiative: We have reached edition number three; we are in Austin at South by Southwest, which represents the cutting edge of visual creativity; and we are presenting stories that are emotionally strong as they are engaging. This edition also expresses a message of true multiculturalism, which I think today is particularly important." The short films can now be seen at framesoflife.com.