I realize that we still have many more press conferences to sit through before the NYFF press screenings conclude (with such notables as Lynch, del Toro, and Ms. Coppola), but I mean it when I say that I have already witnessed this year's winner. Last year it was a runaway victory by George Clooney, who had the audience lapping up his every word like dehydrated dogs. This year's winner is, without a doubt, THE JOURNALS OF KNUD RASMUSSEN co-director/co-screenwriter/co-editor/director of photography, Norman Cohn. Not only did Mr. Cohn deliver the best press conference of the festival, this was the most well-spoken, thoughtful, engaging, profound, intelligent, and enlightening press conference I have ever experienced. His description of being a community-based filmmaker read like a brilliant manifesto. He also provided context into the history of his and Zacharias Kunuk's culture of choice without seeming didactic or preachy. This is how it's done, folks. Congratulations, Mr. Cohn. I know there were digs coming out of Toronto in which buyers mocked the film's unsalability, but that just confirms how fucked up this world is. THE JOURNALS OF KNUD RASMUSSEN shouldn't be thought of as a "marketable film." It is a deeply personal portrait of a culture that would otherwise be ignored and forgotten. It is a vital, striking ARTifact.
Yesterday afternoon brought another sort of press conference, with Warren Beatty talking, and talking, and talking, and talking. As usual, New York's finest film reporter, Stu VanAirsdale, was there to ask a question and deliver another funny, comprehensive report. I actually enjoyed most of the rambling, but I also got to witness firsthand just how pleased with himself Mr. Beatty is (a groundbreaking revelation, I know). As for REDS, it has my vote for Best Hollywood Movie of 2006, even though it was made in 1981. They sure don't make 'em like they used to.
The paparazzi was out in full force this morning due to the appearance of Penelope Cruz (who, by the way, is 100 times prettier in person than she is on screen). It was disgusting. Yesterday evening, there were a bunch of paparazzi waiting outside of Alice Tully Hall (no relation, in case you were wondering) for Beatty to emerge. One overgrown Jabba-esque photographer sped up in his car and started ranting to a fellow comrade about how Beatty wouldn't shut up and how he was such a blowhard. I wanted to walk up to him and say, "And you earn a living by stalking this blowhard and taking his picture? Who's the blowhard, sucknuts?" But I didn't. I don't advocate murder, but I think it would be really awesome if all of a sudden all the paparazzi in the world lost their arms from the elbows down. That would really make me smile.