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Malkovich Day in Thessaloniki

Sunday, November 19:
The sun is finally out and this is Malkovich Day in Thessaloniki.
The press conference was also attended by Independent producer Russell Smith, who has produced a number of Malkovich films and is an old friend and cronie from way back in Illinois. (We were room-mates in college) -- Smith was actually the more interesting speaker and had great comments on the process of making independent films in Hollywood, the addiction and dangers of fame, (“it almost ruined Johnnie Depp”), and the unfortunately misapprehended "bad guy" image of Malkovich. The actor has lived in France for a long time now, speaks French fluently, and is directing his second theatre piece In French, in Paris, at the moment.

Regarding the difference between stage and screen acting: Malkovich: "They're like distant cousins (“like the piano and the saxophone --they’re both musical instruments, but being good on one doesn’t make you an expert on the other) -- The big difference is that theatre is live -- it changes every night -- film is "dead". Once it's made it never changes -- you can't go back and do it over -- yet, the basic process of acting is the same".

Smith: "I once made a film with Richard Gere, who only makes films -- no theatre -- And I asked him the same question. He said, "In film it's all "from here to here" (putting one hand under his chin, the other on top of his head) -- in other words, you act with your eyes in film. In the theatre you need to use your whole body because the audience is too far away to see your eyes -- That's the big difference, Theatre acting is Body Language -- Movie acting is much more the language of the eyes and facial expression --

On putting a film package together Smith used the "sandbox metaphor" - "It's like you have this giant sandbox to play in and you have certain rules to follow - parameters, to play with -- On one side you need certain actors, on the other a script, a director, a good cameraman --etc. But it all comes down to economics. To raise the money, if you want a studio to back you, you have to compromise -- like in "Juno" (to be presented here during the festival) -- We had an extremely talented but unknown 16 year old actress (Ellen Page) for the main role, but we had to hire a well known TV star (Jennifer Garner) in a supporting role (as the mother) to "sell the package" -- or we wouldn't have gotten the money to make the movie.

As for the term 'independent', the meaning of the word has changed drastically in the past five to ten years. The minute the studios see some talent out there that could make some money for them, they buy it right up -- Absorb it into the system, so that the so-called 'independents' today have become a kind of subset of the studio system itself. The only way to really be independent these days (which means, to have total control of the film you're making) is to have lots of money of your own to make your own film with" --

Malkovich, with completely shaved head, presented a rather austere look at the conference table. He speaks in a soft voice and in extremely measured phrases, weighing each word carefully, almost like a scientist considering the question from all possible angles. His answers to questions were very much to the point, with no attempt to be funny or "charm the audience" as so many actors try to do at these press conferences -- (the George Clooneys, et al) -- He obviously takes his profession very seriously and, considering the kinds of off-beat non-commercial films he makes, does not seem to be in the movie game "for the money" or, for that matter, for the fame/celebrity -- The impression he conveys is that of a serious artist who knows all the games of fame, fortune, and celebrity all too well to bother fooling around. Been there, done that -- Got better things to do with my time ....

Off to see a film about Greeks living in the German city of Wuppertal .... to be followed by the Career award to be given Malkovich on stage in the big hall -- Malkovich is definitely the Big Fish of the festival at this point -- Stay tuned -- more to come ...
Alex in the Press Room, and it's a good one
with Free Coffee!



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About AlexDeleon

Deleon Alex

THE FESTIVALS BLOG by Alex Deleon. Watch for festival coverage from the circuit.

Ambiance and reviews from the hot spots. Welcoming your comments too.

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