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Birdman: Best Picture Backstage

Birdman: Best Picture Backstage
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The following the is the backstage interview at the Academy Awards with the producers of Birdman. Note that in the first question when the reporter refers to the DiCaprio movie they are talking about The Revenant, Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s next film, set amongst fur trappers in the 1820s and set for release at the end of this year, that stars Leonardo Di Caprio and Tom Hardy. Iñárritu‘s previous films include 21 Grams (2003), and Amores Perros (2000).

CATEGORY: Best Picture
SPEECH BY: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole
FILM: BIRDMAN or  (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)

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Q.    This is a question for James.  Are you going to be here next year with the DiCaprio movie?

A.    (James Skotchdopole)  We would love to.

Q.    I just wanted to ask ‑‑ first of all, congratulations on the Best Picture win.  Incredible.  What was it about the story of BIRDMAN that made you want to conceive it as a one‑shot story that sort of brings us through everything that’s going on?

A.    (Alejandro Iñárritu) You know, it’s ‑‑ it’s funny.  There has been a lot of discussion about this, you know.  When you present a film with a strong formal approach, you will have, obviously, strong reactions.  People has been sometimes reacting against it or, obviously, accept it passionately.  I think, you know, my own intention was not to ‑‑ to flash or to impress anybody.  I ‑‑ I really always thought that the subtlety of the way we did it, it was basically my intention.  Maybe I fail.  But for me, my intention was that nobody should notice this, that nobody should say, “Oh, my God.”  I ‑‑ I just wanted that the people can ‑‑ got caught in the ‑‑ in the emotional journey of this guy three days before opening a show where everything was falling apart without any ‑‑ with a ‑‑ in a restless kind of journey; and ‑‑ and I thought that without cuts, I will not distract people by this kind of conventional juxtaposition of spaces, and places, and time but just to live in that conscience that is talking to him all the time.  So I always want this to be a storytelling, you know, device, something that was more related to that and not the technicality of it.  You know what I mean?  So, anyway, people sometimes felt in a way, you know, affected by it in a bad way, but the intention is just a narrative tool.

Q.    And my question is, you know, two years in a row Mexican victories, winning, you know, last year with GRAVITY, now you.  So I was wondering, what do you have to say about the Mexican directors like in America?  And now that you won, how do you really feel when you lost back in 2007?

A.    (Alejandro Iñárritu) I ‑‑ I think here when you arrive to a nomination here, there’s no way to lose.  I always feel that.  I ‑‑ I feel that once you are, in a way, selected as a film, competing with great filmmakers, great cinema, you know, it’s hard to feel defeated.  That’s what I tried to convey there.  You know, the competition is something that our system of belief has implant on all of us.  And the society today and the kids now are so obsessed by competition; because in order for them to feel good or feel somebody, they have to defeat somebody else.  And that’s absolutely fine.  I hate competition.  That’s the worst and the best.  I would say the bad side of all this is that somebody has to be defeated.  I will love that this will be just a show of the best films selected, and that’s it.  So I never have feel defeated.  I feel once I finish a film, I feel a successful filmmaker to be able to be ‑‑ you know, to be lucky enough to finish a film.  That’s ‑‑ that thing is much more than the award I can receive or the critics that can be.  It’s something that exists already.  So that’s how I feel.

Q.    What’s the moment ‑‑ none of us know what it’s like.  What’s the moment when you are in the edit room where you’re watching dailies when you say, “This is something special.  This could be a film that is remembered forever.  We could get an Oscar for this.”  And, also, was the casting of Michael Keaton coincidental, because the parallels between Keaton’s BATMAN and, you know, Keaton’s BIRDMAN in this?

A.    (Alejandro Iñárritu) Well, you know, we all were in the room, in the editing room, and ‑‑ and, honestly, this film was a challenge; because in a way, I was fascinated by the scene itself.  But not having the opportunity to see it, you know, complete until the next scene or the last scene, without a context, it was very difficult in the scene to really understand what this thing will come ‑‑ I mean, what will come about this film.  So this film was particularly scary to be making, you know.  It’s very difficult.  Sometimes ‑‑ and that’s what BIRDMAN is about.  As an artist some day or two hours, you feel like the greatest and you say, “This is amazing.  It’s fantastic.”  And then two hours later, you feel like a dead jellyfish and an idiot.  You feel like ‑‑ like it’s completely defeat guy, and you don’t know what you did, what you did, and you fail, and you question.  So all that vulnerability that I’m sure that all of you now when you write things, and you said, “I should have said that,” or, “I should have wrote that,” all those things are part of our nature, our doubt that [inaudible] exists in our own nature; and that’s part of what challenges us to be better.  And ‑‑ and, anyway, in this case, I was Riggan Thomson seeing the material, saying, “Oh, my God.  It’s going to be a disaster.”  So I couldn’t really tell until the end.  I really felt that it was really special, for me.  I will never in mind that this film will be something that will be touching so many people around the world, and I will be here.  Never at all, you know.

Q.    Aljandro.  [Speaks in Spanish]

A.    Hi.

Q.    So you mentioned during your speech something about Mexico, of course, about immigration and everything.  And then you mentioned now the influence of, like, Latino ‑‑ Latino American writers in the script.  But others in the movie, it’s just like a movie with, like, Anglo characters and everything.  In those terms, it’s kind of similar to a tendency that Cuarón is having.  Is it for you like a relief to be able to just tell stories that are not necessarily completely related to Latinos, but at the same time being able to just do a speech like that, and then talk about the issues that are, like, concerning a lot of people?

A.    (Alejandro Iñárritu) Well, look at this room.  I don’t know how many nationalities are in this room, but I don’t feel different to anybody of you here.  You know, it can be from any continent, from any language.  I don’t care.  I feel very relate to any of you.  So I as an artist, as a human, as a filmmaker, I ‑‑ I cannot have these stupid borders, flags, and passports.  Those are a concept that were invented by a human society.  But, honestly, naked, in tighty‑whities we will be the same.  And I ‑‑ I have never felt that different.  So for me to make films in United States, or in Africa, or in Spain, or in Mexico, I’m talking about human beings and emotions.  And ‑‑ and I think that’s the beauty of art.  Art doesn’t have those stiff ideological borders that fuck the world so much.

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— MB