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"Get Out" director Jordan Peele says, "The sunken place is this metaphor for the system that is suppressing the freedom of black people."

Seven directors gathered together for the Envelope Roundtable to talk about their work and found their wildly different films actually had a lot in common. They all, as Jordan Peele put it, explore a “missing piece of the conversation.” Here Peele discusses what “the sunken place” from his horror film “Get Out” meant to him:

“The sunken place is this metaphor for the system that is suppressing the freedom of black people,” he said.  It’s “the lack of representation of black people in film, in genre. The reason Chris in the film is falling into this place, being forced to watch this screen, that no matter how hard he screams at the screen he can't get agency across. And that, to me, was this metaphor for the black horror audience, a very loyal fan base who comes to these movies, and we're the ones that are going to die first. And we yell ‘Get out, get out of the house.’”

Directors Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”), Jordan Peele (“Get Out”) and Kathryn Bigelow (“Detroit”) discuss the particular power stories wield to humanize the "other."

In these times of divisiveness and antagonism, or as Guillermo del Toro put it at the recent Envelope Roundtable for directors, “the vulgarity and the brutality of what we're living,” filmmaking can be used as a tool to humanize the “other” said Jordan Peele (“Get Out”) and Kathryn Bigelow (“Detroit”).

“It feels like all of these stories are exploring a missing piece of the conversation,” said Peele “Story is one of, if not the most important tool, weapon we have against hatred and violence.”

“Especially now,” Bigelow said. “You’re almost weaponizing storytelling in order to somehow contextualize the unthinkable.”

"Detroit" director Kathryn Bigelow and "The Florida Project" director Sean Baker explain how they were drawn to the space that blends fictional narratives with stories rooted in facts for their films.

With her film “Detroit,” Kathryn Bigelow dramatizes real-life events that occurred during the 1967 riots in that city. In “The Florida Project,” Sean Baker tells a tale that explores life on the poverty-stricken fringes in contemporary Florida. Both movies weave fictional and dramatic elements from factual truths, creating stories that feel all too real.

“There's a place where drama and documentary kind of fuse, and that's sort of a place that interests me,” Bigelow said. “It becomes very topical and timely, and that's where the journalistic aspect comes in.”

Baker picked up on Bigelow’s idea of a fact/fiction hybrid by adding, “It's the cinema that I'm really finding the most fascinating right now and the most interesting, where that line is blurred between narrative fiction filmmaking and documentary-style filmmaking.”

Director Guillermo del Toro explains that "The Shape of Water" is set in 1962 "for a reason. Because it's about today. And about the 'other' ... I wanted to talk about things now."

As Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) noted at the Envelope Roundtable for directors, the films of all the participants – regardless of the time period in which they take place – are about now.

“The Shape of Water” director Guillermo del Toro certainly agreed, and his fairy tale/Cold War thriller is set in 1962.

“Well, it was '62 for a reason. Because it's about today. And about the ‘other,’” he said. But, he added, “you don't want to root it in now. It's too direct for me. I like the idea of being able to have people lower their guard with the "Once upon a time," you know, and then listen. And then emotionally, I try to make it very real and very specific to me. … I wanted to see, can I talk about love without sounding disingenuous?”

Director Angelina Jolie explains how she was mindful of the emotions that could be evoked by the scenes she was re-creating to film "First They Killed My Father" in Cambodia.

With “First They Killed My father,” Angelina Jolie crafted a visceral film that captures the fear and trauma of wartime 1975 Cambodia from the perspective of a young girl. In bringing the memoir by Luong Ung to the screen, Jolie was aware of added concerns that were unusual for a film production.

“Every single Cambodian crew member was affected by this war,” Jolie said at the Envelope Roundtable, where she gathered with six other Oscar contending directors. “Many of these children knew their parents went through this, but they never talked about what happened. But now they're going to re-create a scene, and they're going to see, and experience, and feel what the parent went through. We had to be really sensitive to that.”

"Logan" and "The Greatest Showman" actor Hugh Jackman shares how he is humbled by the courage of those who have spoken up about their experiences with sexual harassment, despite "the amount of shame and guilt that is attached to this entire subject."

Hugh Jackman was on the Envelope Roundtable for lead actors for his role in the deeply felt superhero character study “Logan,” even as he will also soon be seen in the musical “The Greatest Showman.” Questions of how to respond to the sexual harassment and abuse scandals that are shaking Hollywood are both inevitable and yet still difficult to answer. When the subject came up, Jackman was the first to respond, expressing his feelings on what this moment could come to mean.

“I just have unbelievable empathy and am so inspired by all of the people coming out,” Jackman said. “I think the amount of shame and guilt that is attached to this entire subject and the amount of courage it takes to step forward is humbling to me. I don’t think it matters if you’re a man or a woman, if you’re old or young, if you’re a parent or not, it’s a human issue. I’m really glad the conversation is out there, it’s a great opportunity beyond our industry, really amongst society. An issue which has obviously been sort of pasted over is no longer.”

James Franco, who plays filmmaker Tommy Wiseau in "The Disaster Artist," uses Wiseau's words and mannerisms to explain just what drew him to Wiseau's story.

James Franco stars in and directs “The Disaster Artist,” the impossibly true story of actor and filmmaker Tommy Wiseau and the making of his now cult classic 2003 movie “The Room.” Rather than laughing at Wiseau, through Franco’s unexpectedly heartfelt performance the movie turns him into a heroic ideal of can-do spirit and believing in yourself. In our roundtable, Franco talked about what drew him to Wiseau as a character, complete with an impression of Wiseau’s unusual, difficult to place accent.

“Tommy Wiseau had been told no his whole life. ‘I’m like James Dean.’ Imagine the whole world saying, ‘No you’re not, dude,’” Franco said. “‘I want to shoot on 35 millimeter and HD at the same time.’ Why Tommy? ‘Because nobody ever do it before.’”

"Stronger" actor Jake Gyllenhaal shares his belief that the most important thing he can do now in response to allegations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood is to listen.

As allegations of sexual abuse and harassment have roiled the entertainment industry, awards season has continued apace, albeit with a newfound and unexpected seriousness. Joining the Envelope Roundtable for lead actors for his role as Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman in “Stronger,” Jake Gyllenhaal expressed the kind of genuine candor and soul-searching that has suddenly become part of the process.  

“It’s a confusing time. Everyone is trying to digest what all of this means,” Gyllenhaal said. “I feel like to me the most important thing that I have discovered in this period of time, particularly being a man in this business, is to listen. This takes a lot of work and will from everyone. … How do we behave moving forward?”

Hong Chau (“Downsizing”), Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”), Holly Hunter (“The Big Sick”), Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), Nicole Kidman (“The Beguiled”) and Michelle Pfeiffer (“mother!”) share their observations related to the recent discussions about sexual harassment in Hollywood.

In this year's Envelope Roundtable of supporting actresses, the topic of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry came up. After an initial nervous pause these actresses jumped right in. Hong Chau ("Downsizing") credited the ongoing discussion of revelations of harassment with jump-starting a greater push to get women behind the camera and in other production positions.

Laurie Metcalf sees a new strength and savviness in the younger generation of actresses in dealing with these situations, and Holly Hunter gives a shout to social media for enabling the entire movement of women and men telling their stories.

Allison Janney from “I, Tonya,” shares how “it’s a very empowering time” now that people feel free to speak up about their experiences with sexual harassment.

As the landslide of stories about sexual harassment and abuse in the entertainment industry has continued to flow, it has often been the main and sometimes only topic of conversation at screenings and receptions and the other whistle-stops of awards season.

This year’s Envelope Roundtable of supporting actress contenders was no exception. Allison Janney from “I, Tonya,” Laurie Metcalf from “Lady Bird,” Nicole Kidman from “The Beguiled,” Holly Hunter from “The Big Sick,” Hong Chau from “Downsizing” and Michelle Pfeiffer from “mother!” had something to say, starting with Janney, who recalled, "I always knew about this thing called the 'casting couch' and that was something women had to navigate."

But now that people are telling their stories, Janney added, "it's a very empowering time."