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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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AFI day 8

"I've been winning the Los Angeles Grand Prix," said director Anthony Minghella to a sold-out audience on Thursday night, after arriving fashionably late. Minghella was on hand to discuss his work with film critic Pete Hammond and to present 20 minutes from his latest film, COLD MOUNTAIN.

Greeting him on stage were a number of people who have worked with Minghella over the years, including director Sydney Pollack (an executive producer of COLD MOUNTAIN and THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY); cinematographer John Seale; legendary producer Saul Zaentz; production designer Dante Ferretti; and actress Kathy Baker. Throughout the evening, which also featured clips from his work, Minghella paid tribute to his crews, cast and other collaborators. "I've become a product of a collaboration [with these people]," said Minghella , before introducing 20 minutes from COLD MOUNTAIN, starring Baker, Nicole Kidman and Jude Law.

Meanwhile, in Theater 11, Austrian director Ulrike Schweiger revealed that most of the cast of her film TWINNI had never acted before, including lead teen Diana Latzko. "None of the kids were shown written dialogue," said Schweiger, who coached naturalistic performances out of them with the aid of improvisation. Horst Backfrieder, an actor in the film, who is a schoolteacher in real life, joined Schweiger for the Q & A and thanked her for making him an actor. "Extras asked me where my church is," said Backfrieder, who plays a priest in the film.

At the same time, fireworks were bursting out of Theater13, site of the World Premiere of Ziad H. Hamzeh's THE LETTER, which centers on the town of Lewiston, Maine and the uproar that divides the town when a wave of Somalian immigrants move in. Nearly all audience members stayed for the Q & A, with the discussion eventually turning to the role of media in the film. Some in the audience attacked the media's preoccupation with putting all negative groups, such as neo-Nazis, on center stage. Others, however, defended the media, suggesting that the coverage of the inflammatory groups helped motivate protests against racism. "I do not pretend to know [what to do]," said Hamzeh about the social turmoil on display in the film. "But if you hear about injustice, don't put your fingers in your ears."

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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