Few days have been more psychotic. My introduction to the press conference scene, the day has been memorable. I started with a morning talk by the makers of the wonderful RED VIOLIN. I’ve long been a fan of Don McKeller (who has no less then 6 films showing this year that he’s either written, starred in, directed in, or all the above) and it was nice to hear him talk with the film’s director, Franois Girard, about their partnership. Girard even directed what I consider one of the most elegant concert movies ever – Peter Gabriel’s SECRET WORLD LIVE, staged by none-other then Robert Le Page.
The conference went well, with the small room about 2/3rds full with 30 or so journalists and camera operators. The questions were fairly intelligent, and it was obvious that the ‘artists’ involved cared about their work and were open and honest about even the most challenging of questions.
The same atmosphere was not evident in the manic conference about an hour later, in celebration of Robert Towne’s WITHOUT LIMITS. Perhaps 150 people squeezed into the room, most standing precariously between the legs of tripods and other television equipment. Of course, all the buzz surrounded the film’s producer, Mr. Tom Cruise.
The conference started out with a polite request from Warners that EYES WIDE SHUT be considered verbotten. EWS is, of course, the long awaited Kubrick film that Cruise and his wife Nicolle Kidman have been making for what seems like a decade, a film that won’t be released until next summer.
As the questions proceeded, one particularly cunning reporter phrased his question so that he related the struggle of runner Prefontaine to the struggle Tom Cruise has had making EWS. Cruise was in the midst of answering, when Robert Towne turned red, and looked like he was going to kill someone. The moderator promptly interrupted Cruise’s response, reminding the reporter of the previous announcement. Leaning back in his chair, Cruise, smile on face, gesticulated his response to the reporter away from the mike.
It says quite clearly on our press kits that any asking for autographs may result in you losing your pass. Well, wouldn’t you know, but 8x10s of Mr. Cruise popped out of many a briefcase, and he seemed quite affable in signing away. It was a much bigger deal for the festival organizers, and he seemed genuinely interested in spending some times with these media ‘fans’. As his topic shifted to the crime of the government regulating movie viewing habits through rating systems (systems that, of course, are regulated by the industry itself, not the government) I walked away, shaking my head in amazement at the absurdity of it all.
An interesting postscript is that he really looks as good, if not better, in person. Many stars I’ve met simply pale from their on screen status. He walked into the room, and immediately the focus turned to him. He’s that kind of guy, with that kind of look and magnetism. His answers were funny, they seemed honest and genuine, and there didn’t appear to be any trappings of either arrogance or false modesty.
The second postscript is that apparently the journalist who asked the EWS question has been banned from subsequent press events. Whether this is true or not, you can be sure that the moderator will think twice before picking him again.