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Press Conferences
by Becky Tan

Al Gore introduces An Inconvenient Truth

Moderator Henri Béhar asked Al Gore what he should call him: Former Vice-President? Almost Mr. President? Past Senator? Gore replied, “Just call me Your Adequacy.” When asked why he kept on plugging away at saving the environment, Gore said he is reminded of his favourite New Yorker magazine cover by George Booth, which showed a dog riding a bicycle around an empty opera stage, saying, “I don’t know why they like this but I’m going to keep pedalling.”

To stress the immediacy of the film’s topic: environmental problems, Gore said that he and his team were literally on the road to New Orleans to talk to insurance companies about financial losses due to crazy weather, when hurricane Katrina struck that area. Polar bears were actually dying while he was showing a film which predicted dying polar bears. Theory was becoming reality.

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore brought his environmental film to Cannes, in spite of an initial scepticism, although it had been well received at the Sundance festival. His director David Guggenheim, as well as four producers accompanied him. An Inconvenient Truth started as a power point presentation for small groups. It has been re-worked for larger audiences and this is the world premiere in the new version. The ending has been changed slightly to be more international. So far there has always been a standing ovation. His most gratifying audience so far was a group of friends in Tennessee, who paid rapt attention when he showed the film on a laptop at midnight.

Gore said: The film describes a planetary emergency, a challenge to moral imagination, and is delivered with a humorous and entertaining message. This climate crisis demands a response right now. Corporations and government must work together. The U.S. and Australia are the only civilized countries which have not yet signed the Kyoto agreement. However, the treaty won enough votes for ratification at any rate. Although the U.S. is not part of the treaty, 230 U.S. cities have ratified it independently.

There is a bubble of unreality among U.S. politicians. Power polluting interests have influence with government. But in the end the American people, who are ahead of the politicians, will insist that lawmakers react or lose re-election. In the next two years even Bush and Cheny will change. The real reality will take over from unreality. Mother Nature has joined the debate.

Gore said that he was in politics for 24 years and has no claims on the presidency of the U.S. His message is scientific and not political. It’s about the ozone layer, skin cancer, levels of carbon emissions, flooding. Although he refuses to become political, it’s obvious that if he had become president in the disputed 2000 election, becoming independent from oil and coal would probably have had priority over invading Iraq.

There will be a book along with the movie and profits go to the Alliance for Planet (Climate) Protection. Paramont is donating 5% of the gross income from the film. Companies like General Electric are switching sides and developing new technologies. If every family changed from five conventional to five environmental friendly light bulbs, it would be the equivalent of 8 millions cars leaving the roads for one year. See

Gore believes that the U.S. can change before it reaches the tipping point. Consider what our children will say: “Thank you” or “What were you thinking?”

Over the Hedge Press Conference

Attended by directors Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick, president of DreamWorks Studio Jeffrey Katzenberg, and actors Avril Lavigne, Nick Nolte, William Shatner, and Bruce Willis.

Katzenberg said that there is a second renaissance in the field of animated films. First there were the hand-drawn characters of the 80s, then computer animations. DreamWorks produces two animated films a year. A good story well told is the final factor. It takes four years to produce a film. The first two years a small crew of artists work on a story until it comes together. The team grows – in this case up to 350 people – and the last two years are given over to production – at one minute of film per week. The best comedies come out of animation these days. Ancient cultures always used animals to tell a story to hold a mirror up to humans, e.g., in Over the Hedge the animals say, “They just take whatever they like.” Katzenberg believes that animated films can have a message, a moral for children to learn about life, a modern-day morality play. Children believe what is in a movie.

Willis has no desire to teach children anything; he is purely out to entertain. He believes that Americans rebel against being preached to, unless they chose to by viewing a documentary and not an animated family film.

William Shatner, who voices Ozzie the possum, said that dubbing films is very challenging, as there is no physical evidence except by voice. The final blow comes when the actor disappears completely upon being dubbed into another language. All agreed that possibly the best dubbing in an animated film was by Antonio Banderas as the cat in Shrek II, “Whatever happens I must not cry.”

Bruce Willis was the most charismatic member of the panel. Nick Nolte was practically comatose, except for once taking out his harmonica for a little ditty like a modern-day Harpo Marx. Considering the amount of dumb questions (“what were your favourite animated films as a child?”) that they heard from reporters this day and probably throughout their long careers, perhaps each actor copes with press conferences in his own way.

X-Men: The Last Stand Press Conference

Present: director Brett Ratner, actors Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, Shawn Ashmore, Ben Foster, Kelsey Grammer, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Steward.

In this third X-Men film the characters have the options to relinquish their special powers in order to become “normal.” The actors agreed that everyone is “abnormal” under certain circumstances. Their examples of their own “abnormality” were: as a gay man (McKlellan), as a woman of color ( Berry), or having grown up disadvantaged and poor (Stewart). Hugh Jackman came up with: having grown up in the suburbs of Australia.

Other than that, the comments were pretty rote. Everyone on the panel agreed that it was wonderful working with a new director: Brett Ratner. (Brian Singer had made X-Men 1 and 2. ) Naturally, they accepted his new ideas, there is a new emphasis on certain things, there will not be an X-men 4, because this is the third part of a three-part series. They said, “A real actor aspires to be an artist and not to be on the cover of People Magazine, Non-leading parts are often the most satisfying. There should be a standard in the world below which no one should fall.”

A Chinese girl tried to sneak under the wire to attend the X-Men press conference; she was forced back. Her attempts were totally unnecessary because everyone had a seat in the end. A young Chinese journalist from, of all places, Davenport, Iowa, asked director Ratner how he liked Joliet, Illinois, after making the TV series Prison Break. Answer: “ Joliet is a miserable place, sad and depressive.” A South American stand-up comedian took advance of the press conference’s wide broadcast to say, “Miss Berry, you are famous in Chile, I flew all the way over here to see you, that wasn’t easy since I have hemorrhoids; it wasn’t easy to sit for 24 hours. I went to the pharmacy here to get something for my hemorrhoids; but they didn’t know English or Spanish. Uh, do you like acting?” Moderator Henri Béhar wrested the microphone from him. However, even Béhar can ask silly questions. He was fixated on Anna Paquin and repeatedly inquired, “How did you manage to change from child star in The Piano to a successful adult actress?” Answer: It just happened. Luckily, the film has more to it than the press conference.