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Oliver Stone and Kusturica live rap at Thessaloniki

The unexpected duet of Stone and Kusturica at the No Smoking Band concert, held on Tuesday night at Warehouse C, following his press conference at the 49th Thessaloniki International Film Festival, thrilled the crowd of the event. The renowned film director went on stage and marked this unique concert.

Faithful to its annual date with cinephiles, the 49th Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece's grandest and most prestigious event for the 7th art, opened its doors on November the 14th, 2008, bringing about the transformation of the city of Thessaloniki to a youthful hive of life and creative association.

Multi-awarded Belgian auteurs Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, heretical Japanese actor and director Takeshi Kitano, unconventional English director Terence Davies, internationally renowned and two-time Academy Award winner Argentinean composer Gustavo Santaolalla and Brazilian director Walter Salles are only a few of the big names of modern cinema that are particpate to this year's festival.

American director and producer Oliver Stone gave his press conference on Tuesday, November 18th at the Warehouse C.

Talking about his latest film W., Oliver Stone recalled the period when he was studying with George Bush at Yale University in 1968. He described the president of the U.S.A. as a sociable person and member of various fraternities, and then referred to their meeting in 1998 when George Bush was the Governor of Texas. ‘I was impressed by his confidence and how well organized his whole promotion “system” was. I immediately got the feeling that he would win the 2000 presidential election’.

When asked about when he decided to make a movie about George Bush, he said ‘After 11/9, I was not interested in making another film about Iraq. I wanted to show how a small team of 6 to 12 men was thinking, men whose decisions were radical and changed the way the American administration runs. I realized that George Bush had used all the available functions of American society. I am not a reporter, I am a filmmaker and after the J.F.K. and Richard Nixon related films, I never thought that I would make another film about a U.S.A. President. But George Bush changed my life, as he changed yours. Even our grandchildren will be experiencing the results of his policies; his presidency changed the life of the planet’. Regarding Barack Obama’s election, Oliver Stone said ‘The new president gives us many hopes. The expectations for a change are high, but it is very early to make any judgments’.

Oliver Stone also said that George Bush was underestimated, and even now that he is powerless, the Bush dogma on terrorism is still in effect. ‘Today the American government spies on everything and everyone they want and claims that, in the name of the war against terrorism, it can start a war against anybody. George Bush calls himself ‘President of War’, and this scares me. I would love to see this cancer be removed. I don’t know if Barack Obama is capable of changing things, but I am not very optimistic’.

Answering a question about the system that pulls the strings in his country, Oliver Stone said ‘George Bush is a product of a consistent military pattern which is in use since 1946 and is based on the idea that the U.S.A. always needs to invent an enemy. In this context, Richard Nixon is George Bush’s grandfather and Ronald Reagan his father. He brought war into politics in order to help his political party by taking advantage of people’s fears and need for security. ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself’, Franklin Roosevelt had said but George Bush seems to totally ignore these words. He sees himself as a savior and he believes that in 2040 people will be thanking him for his contribution’.

Regarding the box office failure of his film Natural Born Killers, the American director said that it is very difficult to make a satire on modern life. ’It was a film about violence and exploitation in a society like the American one whose culture is based on greed, violence and Jesus Christ’.

Pictured: Oliver Stone and Emir Kusturica at the 49th Thessaloniki International Film Festival (11/19/2008)

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