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According to Variety's Elsa Keslassy, De Niro was fighting back tears while stating the above. Keslassy's report continues:
De Niro went on to draw parallels between his own Tribeca Film Festival and Marrakech Film Festival, both of which were born in 2001, “in the shadow of the tragic events of September 11” and have always strived to bring people together and – in the case of Marrakech fest – “serve as an inter-cultural bridge between nations.”
The Oscar-winning actor concluded his speech with a stringent criticism towards the current U.S. government.
“Sadly, in my country, we’re going through a period of grotesque version of nationalism. Not the kind of nationalism where we celebrate the quality and character of our diverse population; but rather a diabolic form of nationalism marked by greed, xenophobia and selfishness under the banner of ‘America First,'” said De Niro, who didn’t name the U.S. President in his speech.
“This stands in contrast with what brings us tonight. The arts don’t respect borders (…), the arts celebrate diversity, origins and ideas. Look at us here tonight we’re enjoying films from 29 countries; we’re united in our love for films and our common humanity,” added De Niro, drawing repeated ovations and cheers from the audience.
Scorsese introduced De Niro’s tribute with a moving, funny and vibrant speech in which he paid homage to actor’s “amazing body of work” before showing a sprawling and meticulous selection of clips – some of which were entire scenes — from De Niro’s films divided by themes cleverly titled “razor’s edge,” “touchable,” “lovestruck,” “once upon a time in America” and “king of comedy.”
Reflecting on De Niro’s unique talent, Scorsese said he had the “uncanny ability to get the viewer to empathize with some really horrific characters” and draw the viewer “to the humanity inside the monster.”
“Bob was in eight of my first 15 non-documentary features and we took on some pretty rough subjects in those pictures and Bob played some tough characters — psychopaths, sociopaths, every kind of paths you can think of (…) and he always conveys the audience not to judge.”
Scorsese also took the opportunity to pay homage to Bernardo Bertolucci. “He was and is and always will be a constant inspiration to me and I believe to so many others (…). I’m shocked and saddened about his passing.”
Both Scorsese and De Niro were greeted like rock stars by the Marrakech festival crowd and took time to sign autographs for locals outside of the gala venue.
The festival opened Friday night with a gala screening of At Eternity's Gate, presented by director/painter Julian Schnabel, along with co-writer and editor Louise Kugelberg and two actors from the film. Guillermo de Toro, who had conducted a Q&A with last month with Schnabel and star Willem Dafoe at the Body Double house in Hollywood Hills, was in attendance Friday, and will also present a masterclass at the festival.
NEW UK/US/CA TITLE: De Palma & De Niro: The Early Films (Blu-ray)
Brought together for the first time – and each newly restored – these three films offer a fascinating insight into the early careers of two American cinema’s major talents.
... Release dates: 12/13 November
In 1963, Robert De Niro stepped in front of a movie camera for the first time. The resulting film, a low-budget black and white comedy called The Wedding Party, would take three years to complete, and another three years to be released, but it would also establish a hugely important working relationship for the aspiring actor. One of the filmmakers, long before he became synonymous with suspense thanks to Carrie, Dressed to Kill and other classics, was Brian De Palma. He and De Niro would team up again in the next few years for two more comedies, both with a countercultural bent.
Greetings, the first film to receive an X certificate in the United States, is a freewheeling satire focusing on a trio of twentysomething friends – a conspiracy theorist, a filmmaker, and a voyeur played by De Niro – as they try to avoid the Vietnam War draft. Hi, Mom!, originally named Son of Greetings, returns to De Niro’s voyeur, now an aspiring maker of adult films, for another humorous glimpse at late-sixties society, this time turning its attentions to experimental theatre, cinéma vérité, the African American experience, and the white middle classes.
Brought together for the first time – and each newly restored by Arrow Films especially for this release – these three films offer a fascinating insight into the early careers of two American cinema’s major talents.
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration of The Wedding Party from the original film negative, carried out exclusively for this release by Arrow Films
• Brand new 2K restorations of Greetings and Hi, Mom! from original film materials, carried out exclusively for this release by Arrow Films
• Original uncompressed mono soundtracks
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on all three films
• Brand new commentary on Greetings by Glenn Kenny, author of Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor
• Brand new appreciation of Brian De Palma and Robert De Niro’s collaborations by critic and filmmaker Howard S. Berger
• Brand new interviews with Charles Hirsch, writer-producer of Greetings and Hi, Mom!
• Brand new interview with actor Gerrit Graham on Greetings, Hi, Mom! and his other collaborations with Brian De Palma
• Brand new interview with actor Peter Maloney on Hi, Mom!
• Hi, Mom! theatrical trailer
• Newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
• Limited collector’s edition booklet featuring new writing on the films by Brad Stevens, Chris Dumas and Christina Newland, plus an archive interview with Brian De Palma and Charles Hirsch
On May 8th, Robert DeNiro will be honored at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center’s 44th Annual Chaplin Award Gala. As a primer to this vital fundraiser, The Film Society will host a one week retrospective featuring his best performances. It will include his seminal work with director Martin Scorsese (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King Of Comedy, Goodfellas, Casino, Cape Fear), Michael Mann (Heat), Brian DePalma (Hi Mom!, The Untouchables), and the late Sergio Leone (Once Upon A Time In America). Seeing any of these films are essential, but the real treat in the series is DePalma’s black comedy, ‘Hi Mom’, which featured DeNiro in one of his earliest starring roles; and Once Upon A Time In America, Leone’s 1984 epic which has been restored to its original 3 hour-plus cut.
Did you audition for “Greetings”?
I auditioned for “The Wedding Party,” which was Brian’s first movie, which he co-directed with Wilford Leach. That was my first movie too. And then he asked me if I wanted to (do “Greetings”) … I don’t think I read for “Greetings.” And then we did “Hi, Mom!” And then we did “The Untouchables.” So we did a big jump.
When you filmed “Greetings,” did you have high hopes, or were you just hoping for distribution?
In those days, I wasn’t even sure how it worked, distribution. I forget who did pick it up, it was so long ago. But I do remember “Greetings” did somewhat well.
Do you remember reading the “Greetings” review?
I was aware of Variety, but it must have been pointed out to me.
You were busy in those days.
I also had done something in-between (the De Palma films) called “Sam’s Song” (directed by Jordan Leondopoulos), which Cannon Prods. took at the time. They sort of twisted it into a kind of quasi-porno film, because I had some nude scenes with a girl; at that time, films would be done with whatever sex or nude scenes. But it was all made with the most … with the highest artistic intent. There was a very genuine, sincere intention of the writer-director.
1968 was a tumultuous time. Do you have any memories that stand out?
Well, the Vietnam War was going on and President Johnson, so that was really … There was a lot going on.
Baurez then asks De Niro if such improvisation is essential to his natural approach to acting. De Niro replies, "Yes, but I have to have respect for the words of my script! When working from a script by David Mamet, for example, you must follow the rhythm, the beat of the language, otherwise it creates an imbalance. A filmmaker like Michael Mann may have a surgical accuracy. It's not an obsession, but simply a requirement of the script. The structure of Heat was completely chiseled that my character should remain cold. The role required great self-control. No filmmaker is obtuse, a priori, otherwise it would break the spontaneity of the actor. De Palma and Scorsese are supporters of improvisation. If they are quick to rewrite some things during filming, they have the general structure of the film in mind.
This past summer, De Palma told George Stroumboulopoulos his recollections about that first audition with De Niro:
"He came in to an audition. We were in a loft in the Village and we put an ad in the Village Voice and we were just seeing one actor after another then this sort of timid kid came in, the last one in. We had him do a little improvisation and we thought 'Hey, this kid is pretty good' and he said ok, but there's something I've been preparing in my class can I show it to you. The kid had the part, I mean, okay. So he goes outside and we're sititng around and it's like 5, 10 15 [minutes], we figured he had gone home and then he came in a did this incredible scene from 'The Strike', the Clifford Odets play about the taxi strike. He was ranting and raving and [yells] and you think, holy mackerel. That's Bob De Niro."
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