Almost as much a fixture as the movies at the Berlinale, are the subsequent press conferences. The film festival is in full swing, and while those without tickets will have to wait for the roster of films to be widely released, the press conferences are viewable online. They offer some insight into a film journalist’s day, but they also reveal a high level of personal politicking and appeals aimed at the stars and directors on the panels.
"Mr. Gere, assuming you have four piece dinner party, and two people are set, you as a host, and let’s say the other one is Donald Trump. Uh so there’s two seats left…" one journalist asks at the press conference for director Oren Moverman’s The Dinner.
"I wouldn’t be at the dinner, I’m sorry." Gere interjects.
"Ah, you wouldnt." says the interviewer.
At this press conference for The Dinner, the lone American film in the main competition, many journalists were keen to talk about Donald Trump. The Dinner is about a wealthy, high-profile family coming to terms, over an absurdly luxurious meal, with a massive wrongdoing committed by two of their sons. It stars Steve Coogan, Richard Gere, and Laura Linney, who were all in attendance at the conference.
"When was this film conceived? Was it conceived before the man, whose name is not mentioned in this film festival, - and I’m not talking about Voldemort - was it before he came into power?" another journalist asks.
"Are you talking about Steve Bannon?" Gere asks.
"The other guy, I’m talking about the other guy." the journalist clarifies.
Richard Gere’s character, Stan, is a congressman wrangling his entitled, dysfunctional family, which may have contributed to the journalistic interest in tying The Dinner to the current American political climate. But of course, not everything was about the 45th US president. Here’s actress Laura Linney commenting on her work relationship with Gere.
"Quite frankly, I’ve grown up professionally with Richard. We have made three films - once a decade - and so I find it necessary to check in with him every ten years."
On a very a-list panel, it was Gere who absorbed most of the questioning, which at points he turned back around to the audience.
"Was it called Time Out Of Mind? The homeless movie that we did together? You’re not listening. Does anyone care what I’m talking about? No one cares," Gere expresses.
"Yes they are, but they’re thinking about the title," the moderator clarifies.
While in Berlin, Gere met with Angela Merkel to discuss his pet cause, human rights, with a focus on Tibet. Gere’s activism is well-known, and one journalist even used the press conference to invite the actor to a rally in May. He offered Gere a vintage poster from a past Berlinale as a symbolic invitation, which Gere accepted. While it might seem a small consolation prize to those unable to attend the Berlinale’s actual movies, watching the press conferences is its own source of entertainment.