There was no sleep until Brooklyn this month for busy filmmaker Darren Aronofsky.
The Oscar-nominated director – who just unveiled his latest film, ‘The Whale,’ at the Venice Film Festival – shared his new children’s novel, ‘Monster Club,’ with students at his former Coney Island high school on Thursday. .
To welcome Aronofsky back to his alma mater, the talented children of Mark Twain IS 239 adapted scenes from “Monster Club” into a stage performance. They also held an art exhibit inspired by characters from the tome and welcomed the director and his co-writer Ari Handel to the school with a student string quartet.
“Monster Club” follows a group of fictional college students whose favorite role-playing game comes to life in and around Coney Island.
“I had such a good time when I was a student here at Mark Twain, that when I wrote ‘Monster Club,’ I wanted Mark Twain [school] to be a major character of it,” Aronofsky told a group of jubilant 8th graders who enthusiastically filled the school auditorium.
“Mark Twain was such a great place for me and such a great school…it’s been a few years since I’ve been here, I’m really glad to be back,” he said.
Aronofsky and Handel had first visited the school together six years ago when they were researching a film version of “Monster Club.” But their screenplay eventually became the book coming out this week from HarperCollins.
Aronofsky’s last film, “The Whale” received a long standing ovation in Venice, and gave its star Brendan Fraser – who plays a 600-pound man in the film – the buzz as an Oscar favorite, Variety reported.
“Fleabag” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, comedian Nick Kroll and Huma Abedin, among others, were also present at the star-studded screening.
Mark Twain’s children may have done an even better job of asking Aronofsky questions during their school’s Q&A than the press corps at the Venice Film Festival.
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Asked about his inspiration for the book, Aronofsky told them, “The inspiration was my time here, when I was your age… Do you remember when you got to 6th grade how scary that first day was? It was a scary thing to go from elementary school to middle school…. The book is really about when you leave elementary school and suddenly have more responsibilities.
He also told his young fans to follow a creative vision: “I’ve done eight movies now, and there’s always a million people who are going to tell you no. I had a producer who said, “The more people who say no to you, the more you know you’re doing something good.” Because if you do something very different and very original, people won’t understand…. but the only way to make something original is to believe in it more than anyone else.
The director of edgy epics ‘Black Swan’ and ‘The Wrestler’ also joked, ‘Has anyone seen any of my movies here? Oh, you shouldn’t watch them. They are not for you…. ‘Noah’ was PG-13, so some of you may be looking at it… and I think ‘The Fountain’ might be PG-13.
Aronofsky was introduced by school principal Karen Ditolla, and he and Handel stayed after the Q&A session to sign countless copies of the children’s book for the students.
Aronofsky and his team were seen after the school appearance having lunch at the venerable Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, Gargiulo’s. He also appeared at Brooklyn’s Books Are Magic on Wednesday in support of the new tome and hit stores including The Strand and McNally Jackson later Thursday.