I love getting a report from someone in another country who sees things completely different from the way I, or most people in the US would see the same issues. The film festival was about world change or something deep and serious, which really begs the question why Sex And The City was being played there. Here is her report along with some photos.
I decided to attend one of the press conferences at the Ischia Global Fest for 2 reasons: one, because it was my first opportunity to attend a big event (at least compared to Naples' usual resonance of events) as an insider; two, because my friend who has been working for the festival met Jason Lewis on Monday and told me he was friendly and fun to hang with. So, this morning I took the earliest hydrofoil to the island of Ischia, where a press conference with Bille August, Steven Zaillian, Matt Dillon, Paul Haggis and a bunch of MGM and Sky Italy execs was to be held at the Regina Isabella hotel.
I arrived at the hotel and met my friend who started showing me around. After a while she got back to work and left me free to roam around: I sat down on a couch outside the pressroom near two English speaking men, deliberately trying to overhear their conversation.. when they started mentioning "Ridley" and working on the screenplay for "a an opera on space, like 2011: A space Odyssey" I started to realize I was sitting next to Zaillian and August!
Anyway, the festival's producer, Pascal Vicedomini (the same guy who organizes the Capri, Hollywood and Los Angeles, Italia festivals) suddenly arrived and started the conference.
Bille August was asked about his recent Nelson Mandela movie (Goodbye Bafana), and Bille really emphasized that the day Mandela got out of prison, the speech he gave was centered on forgiveness and reconciliation and not on negative sentiments. One particular journalist, who seemed obsessed with politics and current events, asked him what he thought about politicians attending the Beijing Olympics: Bille simply stated that attending them would be a righteous act of respect towards the Chinese population.
He's currently working on a movie called The Diary (although the title is being changed continuously, so who knows) which is set in Halifax, Canada in 1917; Halifax was a busy port for ships that crossed the Atlantic during the WW1 years; the story is based on a collision/explosion between 2 ships of which, one was full of ammunition, and it basically is a love story between a woman and two men; for the time being, he was not allowed to comment on the cast. He then talked about how much he enjoys the human touch of festivals like these, because being a filmmaker means working in a solitary way. He doesn't know how other directors direct and how they speak to their actors, so being involved in festivals allows him to share experiences and ideas with other colleagues.
There was an outdoors screening of Drugstore Cowboy Monday evening, and Matt Dillon was impressed with the island's location, which added to the overall viewing experience thanks to the waves crashing on the seaside. His speech was entirely focused on the beauty of taking chances in his life, and was supported by Paul Haggis in talking about how working with MGM has been great because they always gave them a green light on everything (while other studios wouldn't behave the same way). Paul Haggis said that he tends to look for actors who just fall willingly in a role, and he sees his relationship with Dillon as if they were on the edge of a cliff's precipice, looking down to jagged rocks and willing to jump together, because that's the kind of trust they have in each other.
One journalist asked them to compare America at the time of Drugstore Cowboy with the America at the time of Crash: Dillon answered by stating that back in the Drugstore Cowboy days no one would wear green leprechaun bell bottoms, and now it's all Gucci shoes on everyone's feet (he also mentioned wearing fake Gucci shoes at an event once). Back then, America was strongly against drugs (Nancy Reagan) so it was difficult to make a movie about that topic; in the same way, it was difficult to make a movie on racial issues like Crash when no other directors were making movies about them.
Dillon is currently working on 2 movies: playing a prosecutor in Nothing but the Truth by Rod Lurie, which is loosely based on a recent story in which a female reporter faced a possible jail sentence for outing a CIA agent and refusing to reveal her source.
The second one is an action drama, Armored, which he's shooting with Laurence Fishbourne, and is about an inside job robbery by armored guards. The same politically obsessed journalist from above asked a question on the actors' strike and on the economic recession in the US.
Haggis and Dillon brilliantly replied that difficult times create great art, just like it happened in the 70s. There's a correction that has to happen in the economy, because lots of mistakes were made by "leadership" in the US. Moreover, the film industry is never interesting and exciting when it's based on playing it "economically" safe.
After that, MGM Channel's vice executive president talked about the MGM film library and the movies handpicked to be broadcast on this new Italian channel on sat tv. Dillon slipped on a pair of sunglasses, and that symbolically meant the conference was over. In fact, one journalist tried to ask something about actors being paid an amount based on movie revenues, and Haggis quickly replied something to the tone of "there are bigger problems in the world!".