Appearing at a Berlin Film Festival news conference in connection with the screening of Margin Call , a film that depicts the Wall Street bankers responsible for the financial collapse of 2008 as amoral -- but sympathetic -- individuals, Jeremy Irons, who co-stars in the film (along with Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore and Paul Bettany), compared studio executives with their opposites in the financial businesses. They manifest the same "amorality" he said. If you're running a studio, he remarked, "You only care about making films that are going to make a huge amount of money. You're not like some of the old studio bosses who actually said, 'I want to make this film because it's about an important subject. Let's get behind it.' It's just, I want to make this film because it's going to make millions for the studio. That's the only criteria." Spacey, who also appeared at the news conference, said that such an attitude has had a devastating impact on independent filmmaking. A truly wonderful indie film may sometimes get a release, he observed, "but its such a small release that it doesn't make money in its first two weeks, then the theater owners want it out and they want the next one in. And that in turn makes it more difficult to raise money for the next independent film." Spacey said he often wishes that studios would resurrect their specialty production arms to make "small films that need to be told." Margin Call is one of the few American films competing in this year's Berlin Film Festival. Critics have, for the most part, praised it, but suggest that, like films about the Iraq war, the subject matter is too close for comfort and that audiences are likely to steer clear of it.

11/02/2011