Thursday, July 17, 2008

Matt Dillon Loves Fake Guccis



Have you ever wondered about what actors are up to when they go to press conferences to promote stuff in other parts of the world? Well, I knew you did, or at least some of you did and so when an Italian reader offered to sneak into a press conference on the island of Ischia during their film festival, I agreed. I think in the interests of full disclosure that it should be said that our reader is female and that the reason she really wanted to go was that Jason Lewis had been there everyday and she really wanted to meet Jason Lewis. All her friends got photos with Jason, but alas, our reader picked the day that Jason decided not to show up at the festival.

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!".

10 comments:

Sylvia said...

Interesting story.

brum said...

Yes, great to get a different perspective on these conferences. thank you to the correspondentin what looked like a very lush location.

ms_wonderland said...

Excellent report. Most film press conferences avoid any issues in favour of fluff. Interesting that film projects are still going ahead with the SAG situation being unresolved.

Matt Dillon must be on a fee plus percentage of the back end deal, surely? Must be a sticky topic if Paul Haggis closed down the question.

Harriet Hellfire said...

Very cool, thanks! :)

jax said...

i rather enjoyed that.

Be Adequite! said...

Interesting but I still think CRASH and Haggis are both severely overrated.

Dillon- I wouldn't kick him outta bed!

UKGrrl said...

Haggis the hack. What a twerp!

boobsu said...

Thank you for sharing this. Very cool!!

Mooshki said...

Yep, Ent, CDAN attracts the best (and most beautiful!) frakkin' readers. Thanks for the story!

Ms. said...

Yes, thanks for sharing. The island sounds like a perfect location for a festival.

Not a Haggis fan either and loathed Crash. It was too symmetrical. The material would have worked much better as a play.

With the salary question, good on Haggis for shutting down that journalist. Personally, I think it is a rude & tacky question.

Ultimately, it's no ones business what the salaries are of the actors or anyone else involved in the film. I don't tell people my salary and would forever look upon the person asking that question as a certified mouth breather.
[sheathing sword and attitude now]