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Friday, September 01, 2006

Directors bash Bush at film fest

By Mike Collett-White in Venice
September 02, 2006
FILM directors used the Venice Film Festival to excoriate the Bush administration overnight, the war in Iraq and Hollywood itself, and presented three starkly different movies to express their views.

Oliver Stone, in the canal city for the European promotion of World Trade Center, said he was worried about when, if ever, the "war on terror" would end.

"Many of us are concerned that it could get worse," he told reporters after a screening of his film, which has already been released in the United States.

"I think things have gotten very dark," he said. "The consequences of 9/11 are worse than the day itself.

"I have reason to be depressed, especially as a Vietnam veteran, many Vietnam veterans are very depressed about where we are in Iraq."

He added that the events of Sept. 11 had been "politicised intensely". "9/11 became an issue of fear," he said.

Mr Stone also took a swipe at his own industry, saying that movies like Black Hawk Down and Pearl Harbour "worshipped the machinery of war".

Spike Lee, also in town to publicise a film in Europe, was typically outspoken about U.S. President George W. Bush.

"It's a country for the rich," said the director of When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts about Hurricane Katrina and the government's response to the emergency.

"Bush doesn't care about poor or white people either. If you're poor ... he doesn't care about you period. You've got to have a certain amount of money in your bank account, then you matter."

He referred to the president and his most senior representatives as "terrible human beings".

Paul Verhoeven, the Dutch film maker best known for Hollywood hits Basic Instinct and Total Recall, said he saw little reason for optimism.

"It is difficult to imagine there is an enormous amount of hope available to humankind," he said overnight at a news conference for his new World War Two film Black Book.

"Among ourselves we have killed 150 million people (in the 20th century). Humans are often animals to each other."

His response was to paint a bleak picture of the Netherlands at the end of the war, portraying anti-Nazi resistance fighters not simply as heroes but also as traitors.

Mr Verhoeven hinted he had returned to the Netherlands to make Black Book because he was disillusioned with Hollywood.

"It's true that after the last movie I did in Los Angeles I felt as empty as the movie," he said, referring to his 2000 film Hollow Man.

He also suggested the big stars had too much power.

"I would have loved to make a film with Nicole Kidman or Tom Cruise, but it's almost impossible," he said. "The only way is a special project that's tailored to the star."

Mr Stone took a radically different approach to expressing his dark vision of the world.

"I think at a time when there's so much darkness, it's time to put out light," he said. "It gives me great pleasure to present a film that is positive".

Mr Lee said he favoured the documentary format over a drama to tell the Katrina story because using real people and real experiences was more powerful.


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