Writer and director Lorene Scafaria reveals that the women in ‘Hustlers’ are surviving a world with broken values [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“When we were filming we felt like we were onto something,” reveals Lorene Scafaria about her passion project “Hustlers,” which she produced, wrote and directed. “There were so many moments on set… it was electric.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Scafaria above.

“Hustlers” is a true story based on a “New York” magazine article about a group of strippers in a post-2008 GFC world, who ply their Wall Street clients with booze and drugs and max out their credit cards. It’s a glamorous and seductive crime story with heart, as it spotlights a group of women turning the tables on their filthy rich clientele, expertly and entertainingly conning their way to the top. After it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year to rapturous reviews, the film exploded at the box office; a double whammy of critical and commercial success that has firmly positioned the film as a contender this awards season.

SEE Jennifer Lopez (‘Hustlers’) is a growing Oscar threat, but can she win it?

Scafaria is not surprised that the film is resonating with people, particularly “anyone who can relate to what it’s like to not have money and certainly anyone who was around during the 2008 financial crisis, the ‘Class of 2008’,” she says. “It’s resonating with people because it’s about what it is to try to survive in a world that has a broken values system, where there’s certain systems in place to keep the rich, rich and the poor, poor.”

“We approached it as a period piece. If you want to know how did we get here, you have to look over your shoulder to see what happened and why it’ll happen again,” she explains.

The film also has a lot to say about gender, class and power, as a group of marginalized women are empowered to take on the one-percenters that ultimately ran the world into the ground. “It means a lot to me as a women and it certainly means a lot to me for this community that has been misrepresented for a long time,” Scafaria explains. “This is a group of women that aren’t even usually considered in the conversation about women.”

SEE DP Todd Banhazl on ‘weaponizing’ and ‘taking control’ of the male gaze in ‘Hustlers’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Much of the film’s success is also arguably due to its strong female cast, led by Constance Wu and featuring a captivating career-best performance by global superstar Jennifer Lopez, whose character reigns over the film as a defiant maternal force taking power into her own hands, against the odds.

“She’s such a singular performer. It’s not just the dance, which is honestly such a bonus, but such an afterthought for me as to whether this character was going to bring it as a dancer. It was so much more important that she brought that weight, that authenticity, that warmth, that maternal warmth but also how cool and tough she is,” Scafaria admits. “She’s just like nobody else. I’ve been a fan of her work for so long but to see her in something dangerous; that was really exciting. Sitting back and watching her, I talk about it like going to the gym with her because it felt kind of like that,” she reveals. “It really did feel like Ramona was showing up on set every day; like an athlete, it felt like trying to spot her at the weight bench or something, where I got to put more weight on the bar and then stand back and watch her lift.”

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