Ponsoldt, ‘End of Tour’ Director, Shows Love For David Foster Wallace, Jason Siegel and Sarasota

Filmmaker James Ponsoldt before he finished college became a fan of writer David Foster Wallace, and he stayed one until the writer’s suicide in 2008. But when he decided to make a film based on Wallace’s life, he didn’t want to cover a high period of time. The End of the Tour follows Wallace over a period of just a few days when he was shadowed by Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky.

“Cradle-to-grave biopics tend to be reductive, to take a life and reduce it to 105 minutes,” Ponsoldt told SRQ before a screening of the movie at the Sarasota Film Festival. “This is not a biopic; it’s just about the relationship with these two men.”

Ponsoldt consulted heavily with Lipsky, who documents his time with Wallace in the book Although Of Course You End of Becoming Yourself. The book itself served as the chief resource for accuracy in the portrayal of all characters. “But in the end this is not a documentary,” the director said. “It’s a scripted film based on a nonfiction book.”

The screening marks a return to Sarasota for Ponsoldt, whose past film The Spectacular Now also served as a festival centerpiece—and later became a major hit. Ponsoldt himself has become a fan of this event and Florida in general. “The audience responses here are really passionate, being an arts community.”

SFF Artistic Director Michael Dunaway has hinted that actor Jason Siegel’s portrayal of Wallace in this film should put the actor in the Oscar race, though Ponsoldt refuses to get too enthusiastic at this point. “I’m grateful to Michael Dunaway for being such a believer,” Ponsoldt said. “Jason Siegel is the best. He gave everything to this role, and I am proud of the work and excited for him.”

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