In 1920, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald spent a memorable summer in Westport.
It’s taken a lot longer — more than 2 years — for another pair of locals to make a film about the literary-and-fast-living couple.
But the video project began even way before that.
A 1996 New Yorker story by Westport writer Barbara Probst Solomon linked Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby to this town. But the piece was “ignored by Fitzgerald scholars,” says filmmaker Robert Steven Williams. So he and Staples grad/social studies teacher/historian Deej Webb embarked on their own project.
They interviewed more than a dozen academics. They dug into Fitzgerald’s archives at Princeton, and presented at a Fitzgerald Society Conference in Alabama. They even interviewed one of the writer’s granddaughters in Vermont — a woman who rarely speaks to anyone.
“What we uncovered was not only surprising,” Williams says. “It made us realize that the Westport Fitzgerald home was much more than just about Gatsby.”
So when clips of their film — Boats Against the Current — are shown at the Fairfield Theater Company on Monday (June 8, 7:30 p.m.), viewers will learn about much more than F. Scott, Zelda, the Roaring ’20s and Westport.
Williams and Webb draw attention to the fact that the home the Fitzgeralds rented — on Compo Road South, adjacent to the Longshore entrance — is for sale. And unprotected.
According to Williams, that means that “anyone could buy it, and make it tomorrow’s ‘Teardown of the Day.'”
Williams and Webb will discuss — using over an hour’s worth of clips — why “Westport needs to save this home.” They’ll be joined by Professor Walter Raubicheck (a Fitzgerald scholar from Pace University), and Westport Historical Society executive director Sue Gold.
After all, like Gatsby itself, the Fitzgeralds’ home is a classic.
(For ticket information, click here.)