Former First Daughter Jenna Bush Hager on Joining Greenwich Film Fest Board (Exclusive)
The daughter of one president and granddaughter of another, who works for NBC, tells THR that she's a film lover --"The Normal Heart" was "really terrific"-- and was enlisted by her cousin to work with the Greenwich International Film Festival.
NEW YORK -- On Monday morning, Jenna Bush Hager, the daughter of former president George W. Bush and granddaughter of former president George H.W. Bush, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg about the recent announcement that Greenwich, Connecticut, will play host to an international film festival starting in June 2015 -- and that she is a member of the board that is making it possible.
THR decided to ask the 32-year-old, who works as a special correspondent for NBC's Today and as a contributor to NBC Nightly News, about her connection to the affluent town located about 45 minutes outside of New York City, where she lives; why she wants to be associated with a film festival in the first place; and the name of the last great movie that she saw.
Here are some snippets of our exclusive conversation.
On her connection to Greenwich, Connecticut: "I live in New York City. Greenwich is part of the larger community. My cousin, Wendy Stapleton Reyes, is one of the founders of this film festival, which I'm really excited about. ... I visit her and my goddaughters up there, and I have friends who live up there. I think she's found that Greenwich has changed a lot from when she grew up ... that it's actually a pretty international community, with people from all over the world living in Greenwich ... and she's found that there are a lot of people that are interested in philanthropy and film, and that this would be a great place to bridge those two worlds together and create this film festival."
On why she agreed to serve on the Greenwich International Film Festival's board: "I'm interested in film. Also, their model, to me, is different in that it's trying to promote change -- philanthropy is a major arm of the festival. [Wendy and I] had worked together with UNICEF and other organizations, so she knew that this would be something that I would be interested in."
On her fellow GIFF board members: "I know Mark [Teixeira], just personally, but we haven't sat down for a board meeting yet. I think that the founders were really interested in setting the dates for the first film festival, which will be basically a year from now, and starting to kind of create a broader sense of what it will look like. But I do hope we get to sit down for a film festival meeting soon. I think there's events that have already started, which I've had to miss. I work so much and I travel so much that it's sometimes hard for me to get to them, but I do hope that we'll be able to get together soon. And, as far as what my role will be, I mean, I'll do anything that they want me to. I mean, I really believe that we have the opportunity to create a new model for a film festival, in that it's talking about change and it's talking about philanthropy and giving back. I think that's something that could be really terrific, so I'm happy to help in any way."
On being a film buff: "I have a new baby, so I haven't gone to many movies lately; we watch films and TV at home. But I think the types of films I'm most attracted to are those that create a conversation, that help others start to think about the ways that they can give back, and that's one of the reasons why this film festival is so interesting to me. For example, Waiting for Superman -- I taught at one of the schools that was in the film, and all the time, when we talk about education and education reform and the importance of every child receiving an excellent education, people bring that movie up. Books do the same thing. They create conversation."
On movie screenings at the White House: "They screened movies in the White House. For example, they screened The Kite Runner when it was first released -- a very heavy film. I'm not sure if you saw it? Again, a movie that could talk about other parts of the world and what was going on there. We screened others as well. One of the perks of being a teacher in Washington, D.C., is that I brought my students to the end-of-the-year party. They didn't even really know that my dad was president, and I brought them to the end-of-the-year party and we watched Cars." (Laughs.)
On the last great movie that she saw: "Again, I just had a child, so unfortunately my situation is -- oh, The Normal Heart on HBO! We watch most things from home, because babysitting is quite a commodity for us, so we're spending more and more time at home. But The Normal Heart I thought was really terrific. Do you have any recommendations? [SF: I suggest Chef.] I just heard the movie Chef was incredible! A friend of mine just told me that. Like a fun summer movie, right? I love that! OK, OK, good -- I'm gonna go see it.
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