Pin-up Watts makes it a family affair at film festival

The-Latest - EXCLUSIVE

The Giffoni International Film Festival (this year called the Giffoni Experience) is the largest children's film festival in Europe. It takes place in the small Italian village of Giffoni Valle Piana in Southern Italy, close to Salerno from where The-Latest entertainment reporter Ylenia Lemos files an exclusive interview with Oscar-nominated actress Naomi Watts and husband Liev Schreiber.

Over 1000 children attend the festival from 30 countries around the world. During the festival, the children and teenagers watch the films, learn about the filmmaking process, and are called to judge them and award the best ones with prizes.

This 35-year-old festival has had a great impact in the history of entertainment and culture, not only in Italy, and it has developed a high reputation internationally. Every year the festival attracts 100,000 guests, directors, producers, and movie stars annually. It has been brought to many different countries around the world with Poland, Argentina, Australia, Albania, China, Korea, India, and the United States having all hosted their own versions of the Giffoni Film Festival. The Giffoni Hollywood Film Festival in the United States has proven to be the biggest so far.

British-Australian actress Naomi Watts is best known for her roles in Mulholland Drive, the film remakes of The Ring, King Kong, Funny Games and her Academy Award-nominated role in the film 21 Grams. Her husband Liev Schreiber is an actor, director and screenwriter who initially appeared in several independent films, and later in mainstream Hollywood movies, like the Scream trilogy horror films. He is also a respected stage actor, who has performed in several Broadway productions and debuted as a director and writer with Everything Is Illuminated.

To both: Could you talk about your new projects?
Naomi: I start filming in 2 weeks. It's a classic Woody Allen film, much like his older stuff done in his own way. It talks about family dysfunction. This is the first time I've done a film without actually meeting the director beforehand.

Liev: I would consider myself a classicist. While working as an actor is about impulse and instinct, the best part is being part of a continuum and that means doing the best you can in your profession. Shakespeare for me was definitely a very important peak point. I would really like to make another film. The problem is that for the past 2 years we've just been making babies and these recent productions (the babies), involve a much bigger cast, bigger catering and I can't get my 12 hour turnaround. I hope that I will soon make another film because compared to working with babies, it's so much easier. I'm also trying to develop a script on a very powerful documentary about street kids. I've just done Salt with Angelina Jolie and an independent movie Everyday. I think I'm going to do a play in the winter in New York.

To Naomi: How was it working in Milan on The International (2009)?
Naomi: We shot in Milan only for 5 days but I loved working in Italy, it's one of my favourite, if not my favourite country. I've also done a film 10 years ago in Rome in Cinecittà and I have very good memories of working in Italy, definitely one of my best experiences.

To both: Do you ever talk about Berlusconi?
Liev: we do talk about Berlusconi but not with journalists.

To Liev: What about the movie Taking Woodstock (2009)?
Liev: I think that the person who you would least expect to make a movie set in 1969 in America is the Chinese director Ang Lee and the fact that he did it on a neurotic Jewish family is even more mysterious. But this is what makes the movie great because he sees things with a foreign eye. I play Vilma in the movie. People have asked me to play women before. I think it's because of my legs and because I am a very ugly woman. I think Ang Lee's point was: if you can love Vilma, you can love anyone. Message of tolerance and love.

To both: What is your idea of cinema for teenagers and kids?
Naomi: Film has always been one of my favourite art forms. I haven't made a big amount of movies for kids but when you see kids or teenagers react to your movies, like I had the opportunity to experience with King Kong it means so much more, it has a much greater effect. We've also learned that film is extremely important for our 2 year old child. It's the only thing that will keep him still and concentrated when we travel.

Liev: Film is an essential part of everyone's upbringing. For so many families now it's the 3rd parent, the electronic babysitter, so it's important. Italians have been generally more progressive in cinema art than Americans. After I showed my kids Nemo and Madagascar, I felt guilty so I showed him Chaplin but he didn't like it, so then I considered giving him to an orphanage.

To Naomi: Is it true that you are going to be in the remake of a Hitchcock film?
Naomi: it's been 3 years we've been working at this but the script still hasn't gotten anywhere. I want to warn you that it will change a lot compared to the original.

To Naomi: Would you be interested in becoming a producer like your friend Nicole Kidman?
Naomi: I produced 3 small films so far but I wasn't the only producer, I was part of a collective group making creative decisions. I trust my taste, I know how to bring good people together. I've done a lot of films that appeal to the darker side, people don't really see me as the comic chick, comedy doesn't appeal to me, I enjoy doing darker things.

To Liev: How was it working in CSI?
Liev: I never thought I would do a Tv show because I can't do the same character for more than 3 months, it bores me. But when I did CSI, I worked with the best people I have ever worked with. Better than any trope I have ever worked with so my opinion about Tv series changed.

To both: What did you want to be when you were young?
Naomi: I wanted to be a nurse or a doctor like a lot of other girls but I knew I wanted to be an actress from a very young age; I liked the world of make believe.
Liev: when I was small I wanted to be an elevator operator.

To Naomi: What is the most difficult decision you have ever had to take in your career?
Naomi: After I had my first child, I didn't work for a year, and in that year I was offered many offers from directors that I really wanted to work with, such as Robert Altman and so it was very difficult to turn down those offers.

Characteristics that distinguish you from other actors?
Naomi (about Liev): There's a real sense of masculinity and a great deal of strength in Liev, expressed in an old fashioned way, which gives him composure and nobility and make him excellent especially for the classic films. Plus, he is extremely smart.

Liev (about Naomi): Naomi is extremely sensitive, her emotions come to her easily so it helps her express herself very vividly. She's also crazy and neurotic so she's good at playing those characters.