Director Garth Davis On ‘Foe’, A Story About “A Relationship That Reflects The State Of The Planet” – New York Film Festival

Foe, a complicated love story set in the near future amid burned out farmland, intertwines AI and climate catastrophe with the challenges of keeping a marriage together — all elements director Garth Davis (Lion) said pulled him to the story.

“There are so many reasons why I was compelled to make this film, and why the actors were drawn to it. Within its layers lies something simple and urgent, something I reflect on in my daily life. The need to honor what is precious within us and around us, to align with our inner nature as we propel into an exciting and uncertain future,” he said as Foe had its world premiere Saturday night at the New York Film Festival.  

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Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal star as Hen and Junior, who live on an impoverished farm that’s been in Junior’s family for generations but is now nothing but dirt and dead trees as giant corporations have exploited the land. Their life is thrown into turmoil when an uninvited stranger shows up at their door with a startling proposal.

Neither actor was there due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. “This is the toughest part,” he said. “I can’t express enough how sorry I am [they can’t] be here sharing what they feel so proud of.” Aaron Pierre also stars. Actors have been on strike since mid-July but hopes are high as guild is set to restart talks with the AMPTP on Monday.

Foe is based on the 2018 novel by Ian Reid, with a screenplay by Reid and Davis. The director called the marriage at the center of the story “a relationship that reflects the state of the planet.”

“What happens to relationships over time. We can change. We can make choices in our lives that make our lives better, but the world better as well,” he said at a Q&A with NYFF’s lead programmer Florence Almozini. “The central relationship and what Hen was trying to fight for and find..and how this experiment allowed her to re-explore her marriage and reconnect with her agency” is centered around AI. “It also just felt radically close to happening.”

Foe is produced by Kerry Kohansky-Roberts, Davis, Emile Sherman and Iain Canning. EPs are Dawn Olmstead, David Levine, Robert Walak, Samantha Lang and Reid. Amazon Studios is planning an Oct. 6 release.

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