The Screening Room Blog
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
The joys of Italian press conferences
VENICE, Italy -- I've heard (possibly apocryphal) tales of Italian journalists standing up at press conferences and asking the director of a drama, "Did you mean this film to be a comedy?"

But normally, the gathered great and good of the movie press seem to signal their distaste for a director's work by non-attendance or slumping wordlessly in their chairs as the panel gamely interview themselves about their work.

I did witness some verbal jousting at a press conference for "Süt (Milk)" by Turkish director Semih Kaplanoğlu, which is showing in competition. One of the panel was proudly saying what a great moment being at Venice is for Turkish film as the last time a Turkish film played in competition was 1991.

At this point, a determined journalist started to disagree with him saying, no, no, no you are wrong. There has, in fact, been a Turkish film in competition since then.

"I'm sorry but I think you'll find I am right," the panel member battles on. This goes back and forth for some time until eventually the panel member gets really angry. "Look, I think I know that I am right." The journalist is about to retort when the microphone is taken out of his hand.

Earlier in the week at the press conference for Guillermo Arriaga's film "The Burning Plain," one journalist introduced himself to the film's star Charlize Theron saying: "I have a question for Charlize Theron. Which side of the bed do you like to sleep on?"

Unhesitatingly Charlize shoots back, "The other side of the bed from you!" then, I think, realizes that this means she would in fact share a bed with him and starts shouting "SECURITY! SECURITY!"

She recovers herself and says: "Look, I think you're cute but I have a boyfriend and he will kill you."

-- From CNN's Mairi Mackay

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